UAlbany Men's Basketball Back in the America East Title Game, Takes Down Stony Brook 63-56
STONY BROOK, N.Y. – The 3-seed UAlbany men’s basketball team is off to its fourth America East title game in five years, avenging two regular season losses and taking down 2-seed Stony Brook, the defending conference champion, 63-56 on Monday night on the road.
UAlbany (21-12) used a 12-2 run at the end of the first half and held off Stony Brook (18-13) and its pressure defense. UAlbany led by as much as 12 in the second half and held the lead the entire half.
“I thought our guys really competed, I told them at halftime that we were up at the half [the last two times],” said UAlbany head coach Will Brown, who takes UAlbany to its sixth conference title game. “I said, ‘it is about time we finish the job.’ I thought we did a nice job finishing the game off in a great environment.”
With the win, UAlbany will head north to Burlington to take on 1-seed Vermont for the 2017 America East title game on Saturday, March 11th at 11 a.m.
UAlbany gets back to the America East title game after missing it last season. UAlbany won the America East Tournament in 2013, 2014 and 2015. UAlbany will play in Burlington for the America East title game for first time since March 16, 2013, a 53-49 victory for the Great Danes.
The Great Danes outrebounded Stony Brook 34-28 and held the Seawolves to 4-for-21 (19%) from three-point range. UAlbany itself was 21-for-25 (84%) from the free throw line.
David Nichols led UAlbany in scoring with 19 points, adding five rebounds. Devonte Campbell was 8-for-10 from the free throw line for 16 points, seven rebounds and two steals while Joe Cremo notched 13 points and two assists. Mike Rowley had four steals, seven rebounds and two points.
For Stony Brook, Lucas Woodhouse netted 25 points, adding three assists. No other Seawolf had over seven points.
UAlbany found early success from three-point range, connecting with its first shots from downtown from Cremo and Campbell. A one-hand floater from Cremo, then a layup with a defender right on him, made it 10-7 UAlbany in the opening 4:30.
UAlbany was held without scoring for the next three minutes but held off SBU’s fast break attempts from three-point range. SBU took the lead with two consecutive Woodhouse layups, making it 15-12 Seawolves with nine minutes left in the 1st.
Defense continued to control the pace of the game as both sides had a nearly double digit turnovers through the opening 15 minutes. Greig Stire notched a layup and one to tie the game as the lead went back and forth. Down 22-20, Nichols hit his own putback, then a pull-up jumper in transition off a Rowley steal to push UAlbany back ahead.
UAlbany continued the run, and in the final minute, Nichols hit a three, then Costa Anderson buried one from 35 feet out at the buzzer to give UAlbany a 32-24 advantage at the half. UAlbany ended the period on a 12-2 run.
Into the second after some back-and-forth scoring, an SBU technical foul sparked a 7-0 run off two Cremo free throws, a Campbell corner three and a wide open Stire layup to make it 41-28 UAlbany with 16:42 to play.
SBU started the full court press against UAlbany, leading to a 10-0 run in the next couple of minutes. Travis Charles ended the streak with a turnaround floater with 12:30 left in the 2nd, putting UAlbany up 43-38, later leading 45-39 off a couple of Campbell free throws.
UAlbany continued to defend against SBU shots as the home team kept pressing. Up four, Cremo pushed and pushed against his defender, hitting his shot off the glass to make it 47-41 with just under nine minutes to play.
A personal 4-0 run by Campbell run pushed UAlbany’s lead back to eight at 51-43 with seven minutes left. Stony Brook pushed back with the pressure, getting to within two at 53-51 with 4:29 left.
Out of a timeout, Nichols hit the floater down the baseline to send UAlbany back up by four, then SBU hit free throws to get back within one. UAlbany defense and press break held, with a layup by Stire putting the game back to two possessions.
Adding a late free throw by Dallas Ennema, UAlbany forces two turnovers on SBU, a Campbell steal and Stire drawing the charge, to hold its lead. A missed three by Yeboah with 35 seconds left was rebounded by Nichols, who got fouled and hit two free throws.
UAlbany continued to hit free throws down the stretch as Nichols hit three more, leading to the Great Danes taking the 63-56 win.
Vermont advanced to the title game with a 74-41 victory over 4-seed UNH at home.