Back to the ‘Ship: Men’s Basketball Downs Vermont to Return to the America East Championship
POST GAME QUOTES
ALBANY, N.Y. – University at Albany men’s basketball (17-14) took the lead early and never gave it up in a rematch of the 2013 America East title game, downing Vermont 67-58 at SEFCU Arena in the league semifinals on Sunday evening.
Vermont opened the game with three straight turnovers, as Peter Hooley scored UAlbany’s first 13 points to open a 13-5 lead on the Catamounts. John Becker’s squad went just 1-for-8 from the field in the opening seven minutes.
Gary Johnson broke a three-minute scoring drought for the Great Danes mid-way through the first half with five straight points to give UAlbany an 11-point lead, 20-9.
Threes from Clancy Rugg kept the Catamounts in the game late in the first half. But the Catamounts couldn’t stop Hooley, who scored 22 points in the first half on 6-for-9 from the field and 4-for-7 from three. The sophomore recorded the most points for a Great Dane in the first half since Jason Siggers notched 22 on Vermont in the opening period in Burlington on Jan. 13, 2007.
Hooley’s three, two free throws and a last-second dunk from Johnson put UAlbany on a 7-0 run going into the break with a 35-19 lead.
Sam Rowley didn’t score in the first half, but scored seven-straight points to open the second half. A good free throw on an and-one from the junior gave UAlbany its largest lead of the game, 42-23 with 16:17 left.
The Great Danes went scoreless for the next five minutes, while Vermont went on a 10-0 run. Back-to-back jumpers from DJ Evans ended a crucial momentum swing and gave the Purple & Gold a 13-point cushion with 10 minutes to play.
UAlbany and Vermont went back and forth for the next five minutes, and the Catamounts came within 11 before a technical and personal foul was assessed to Vermont’s Luke Apfeld with 4:11 remaining.
Vermont came within eight with 42 seconds left, but made free throws from Johnson, Evans and Luke Devlin kept the Catamounts at bay and Will Brown’s squad emerged with the 67-58 victory.
Hooley finished with a game-high 26 points. The sophomore has scored 56 points in two games of the America East Tournament.
Gary Johnson recorded his first career double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds. His rebound mark is also a career high.
Vermont’s Brian Voelkel, who ranks 24th in the nation in assists, was held without a dish by UAlbany.
Will Brown’s squad awaits the winner of the Stony Brook-Hartford game. The America East Men’s Basketball title game will take place at Hartford or Stony Brook on Saturday, March 15 at 11:30 a.m. The game will also be broadcast on ESPN2.
AMERICA EAST TOURNAMENT SCHEDULESaturday, March 8 - Quarterfinals
No. 1 Vermont 77, No. 8 New Hampshire 60No. 4 UAlbany 86, No. 5 UMBC 56No. 2 Stony Brook 80, No. 7 Maine 54No. 3 Hartford 69, No. 6 Binghamton 42Sunday, March 9 - Semifinals
Semifinal #1, No. 4 UAlbany 67, No. 1 Vermont 58Semifinal #2, No. 2 Stony Brook vs. No. 3 Hartford
Saturday, March 15 - Title Game
Semifinal Winners - 11:30 a.m. - ESPN2