Men’s Basketball Captures First NCAA Win, Knocking Off Mount St. Mary’s, 71-64
DAYTON, Ohio – The University at Albany men’s basketball program made history Tuesday night at University of Dayton Arena, overcoming Mount St. Mary’s University, 71-64, in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament. Making the program’s fourth Division I appearance in the Big Dance, the Great Danes captured the University’s first Tournament win. The No. 16 seeded Great Danes will now travel to Orlando, Fla. to take on No. 1 Florida Thursday at 4:10 p.m.
"Our goal coming into this game was to stay big and play big, and I'm proud of my guys,” said Head Coach Will Brown. “I thought we handled adversity well tonight. I thought we weathered the storm, we stayed the course, and we made plays down the stretch. We finished. That's important.
“It's a great win for the America East Conference and for University at Albany, our athletic department and our program, and we couldn't be happier,” added Brown.
Senior DJ Evans led all scorers with 22 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field, while also pulling down nine rebounds. Sophomore Peter Hooley followed with 20 points and four rebounds, and senior Gary Johnson also logged double-figures with 13 points (6-8 FG) and seven boards.
As a team, UAlbany shot 57 percent (27-47) from the field, while the Mountaineers shot 37 percent (22-60). However, Mount St. Mary’s 12-of-37 shooting from three played a key role in the proximity of the final score.
In the first half, the Great Danes led by as much as 19 points, including a 13-0 head start, as Mount St. Mary’s missed its first 11 shots of the night. At the first media timeout, Evans contributed five points with a mid-range jumper and a three from the top of the arch. Johnson scored the first basket of the 2014 NCAA Tournament, laying it off the glass at the 18:47 mark.
However, the Mount used an 18-0 run of its own, sparked by Rashad Whack’s bucket at the 13:17 mark, putting Mount St. Mary’s on the board. From there, the Mountaineers held UAlbany scoreless and got hot from three to cut the deficit to one, 21-20, with 6:33 remaining in the half. With 5:26 to go, the score was knotted, 23-23, and then the squads went back and forth, trading baskets. Whack hit the Mount’s seven three of the half to give the NEC Champions a 31-29 lead.
However, Rowley answered with a layup, tying the ballgame, 31-31, in the final minute of play. Hooley also logged a layup, and just before the buzzer sounded, Evans juked and hit a step-back jumper to send the Great Danes into the locker room with a 35-31 advantage.
Out of the break, John Puk hit a jumper, giving UAlbany a six-point lead. Mount St. Mary’s answered with an 11-2 run, taking a 42-39 lead with 16:15 on the clock. In the first 10 minutes of the second stanza, UAlbany committed seven turnovers, while the Mount had none, playing a key factor in the scoring swing.
UAlbany continued to battle, as Rowley cut the deficit to one, 42-41 on a jumper, and after the Mount stretched the margin to as much as four, Evans’ and-one play again held the Great Danes within one point, 45-44, with 13:46 remaining. Evans followed with a spin move layup for the lead.
Mount St. Mary’s tied the score, 46-46, as Whack made one of two free throws, but Hooley’s layup gave UAlbany the lead for good with 12:39 to go.
The Great Danes steadily began to stretch the margin and Hooley’s crowd-pleasing bank three handed UAlbany a six-point advantage, 54-48, with 9:09 on the clock.
The Mount hung around, however, on the back of Will Miller. Miller knocked down seven threes in the game, finishing with 21 points.
With 4:44 on the clock, Puk slammed home a dunk, giving the Danes a seven-point advantage, 63-56. But, Miller answered with back-to-back three-pointers, making it a one point game with 3:22 on the clock.
Hooley drew a foul with 2:43 to go and hit both free throws on the one-and-one. After trading baskets, UAlbany led by three, 67-64.
Whack nearly played hero for the Mountaineers, as his three-point shot with 36 seconds left went in and out of the rim. Mount St. Mary’s was forced to foul from there, and the Great Danes secured the victory at the free throw line in the waning seconds.
“We had to go on a little run of our own, and then we did,” said Hooley in the postgame press conference, summing up the clash. “They went on another run, and then we had to fight back and make another run.
“That's what we pride ourselves on -- being resilient. The fact that we managed to pull it out is a great thing.”