Puk Sets New Division I Program Career Block Record in 62-57 Loss at Holy Cross
WORCESTER, MASS.- University at Albany men’s basketball (4-4) led by as many as 10 points in the second half, but ultimately fell 62-57 at the hands of Holy Cross (5-3) on Wednesday night. Senior center John Puk had three blocks in the loss, becoming the program’s Division I leader in career blocks with 77.
Both teams got out to a slow start from the field. The score was 12-11 with the Great Danes in the lead mid-way through the first half. UAlbany had an early advantage on the boards, 4-1 on the offensive glass and 9-6 overall as Holy Cross went on a three-minute scoring drought.
Sam Rowley tallied eight of his 14 points in the first half, getting looks in the low block despite being double-teamed for most of the game. The junior also went 4-for-4 from the line.
UAlbany never led by more than five points in the first half, but a series of made shots and quality defensive plays gave the Great Danes the 27-25 lead going into the locker room. Anders Haas drained a 3-pointer with 3:21 left in the opening half to break a 20-20 tie. The freshman also took a charge with 25 seconds left in the first to give UAlbany an opportunity to take the lead. Starting Crusader point guard Anthony Thompson picked up his third foul on the play.
Puk scored with 10 seconds left on the clock to give UAlbany a lead at the half for the second time this season.
Holy Cross came out for the second half on a tear, with Malcolm Miller hitting a three to give the Crusaders a brief lead. The Great Danes responded by going on an 11-0 run, opening up their biggest lead of the game at the 15:42 mark. Peter Hooley scored five straight points including converting on a three-point play in the early second half run.
A five-minute field goal drought mid-way through the second half combined with foul trouble gave the Crusaders the lead with 10 minutes left. Puk picked up his third foul with 12:38 to play and DJ Evans committed his fourth foul with 11:55 remaining. The Holy Cross press also began to wear down the Great Danes. The Purple & Gold committed four turnovers and four fouls in the five-minute drought.
Gary Johnson got the Great Danes back on track at the 10:40 mark on a dunk in transition. Rowley found Johnson in traffic to give UAlbany a two-point lead, 42-40.
Holy Cross regained the lead for the first time since the 19:40 mark in the second half with 10:15 to go. Dave Dudzinski scored six straight points to give the Crusaders a four-point lead with six minutes left.
Evans fouled out at the 4:59 mark, and Hooley ended a four-minute field goal drought shortly thereafter.
Holy Cross took a five-point lead, 57-52 with less than two minutes left, looking to pull away, but Hooley hit a huge three to cut the lead to two. The sophomore scored seven of the last eight points of the game for the Great Danes.
Puk fouled out with 1:16 left, putting Dudzinski on the line where he made two free throws.
Rowley missed a jumper on the ensuing possession, and Luke Devlin nearly had the offensive rebound, but stepped on the end-line in the process. Rowley responded with a steal a half-court and Hooley scored to cut the lead to two with 47 seconds left.
Dudzinski hit the dagger on a 3-point shot with 11 seconds left to make the final score 62-57.
“I thought Holy Cross played well,” said head coach Will Brown. “They got three offensive rebounds in a row, and that sort of broke us in the last minute and a half.”
UAlbany allowed a season-high 13 made free throws against the Crusaders, while attempting a season-low 11 and making a season-low 10 free throws.
Starting center John Puk recorded three blocks in the loss to becoming the Division I program career block leader with 77. He finished with eight points and six rebounds.
Hooley scored 17 second half points, and led the team in the category with 19. The defending America East Player of the Week went 7-for-14 from the field, 2-for-4 from 3-point range and 3-for-3 from the free throw line. The sophomore shot 50% or better from the field for the third time in the last six games.
Rowley led the team on the glass with seven rebounds. He scored 14 points and tallied three assists.
UAlbany wraps up its four-game road trip at Brown on Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m.