Back to the ‘Ship: Men’s Basketball Downs Vermont to Return to the America East Championship
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.
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 SCHEDULE
Saturday, March 8 - Quarterfinals
No. 1 Vermont 77, No. 8 New Hampshire 60
No. 4 UAlbany 86, No. 5 UMBC 56
No. 2 Stony Brook 80, No. 7 Maine 54
No. 3 Hartford 69, No. 6 Binghamton 42
Sunday, March 9 - Semifinals
Semifinal #1, No. 4 UAlbany 67, No. 1 Vermont 58
Semifinal #2, No. 2 Stony Brook vs. No. 3 Hartford
Saturday, March 15 - Title Game
Semifinal Winners - 11:30 a.m. - ESPN2