Battle at the Free Throw Line Ends in UAlbany’s Favor in 74-68 Win at Brown




PROVIDENCE, R.I.- The  University at Albany men’s basketball team (5-4) made 35 free throws to take home a 74-68 win at Brown (6-3) on Tuesday night. Sam Rowley scored 20 points and Gary Johnson scored 16 to lead the Great Danes.

Foul trouble became a factor early for both teams. Starting center John Puk picked up his second foul at the 15:02 mark, with Brown’s center Rafael Maia already sitting on the bench with two fouls.

The Great Danes took advantage, at one point having one third of their total points made up of free throws. UAlbany led 33-20 with 5:30 left in the first half, and was 11-11 at the charity stripe. Will Brown’s squad was in the bonus at the 13-minute mark and finished the first half 15-of-19 from the line. Brown went 7-for-16.

With 11:20 left in the opening half, UAlbany had already completed four three-point plays. Peter Hooley, John Puk, Gary Johnson and Sam Rowley were all fouled and made the basket early on.

Brown and UAlbany combined for 27 fouls in the first half. Five Brown Bears had two fouls at the end of the first 20 minutes. David Wiegmann and Levan Shengelia both had three fouls.

Gary Johnson led both teams at the end of the first half with 11 points. Brown’s Rafael Maia, who is the team’s second-leading scorer, was held without a point in the first half.

Brown went on a four-minute field goal drought to end the half. Leading scorer Sean McGonagill was held to eight points on 3-for-9 from the field and 1-for-6 from three-point land.

“Everything they do is through McGonagill,” said head coach Will Brown. We had Gary Johnson guarding him because we wanted to go with the length and really make him work. McGonagill can worry about scoring because he’s playing off the ball and every set runs through him.”

The Great Danes went into the locker room with the 41-27 lead, and a season-high 41 points at the half.

In the second half foul trouble began to show, as four Great Danes had three fouls just 1:15 in, including Shengelia, Wiegmann, Puk and Sam Rowley. Maia scored his only two points of the game on a pair of free throws to open the second half.

With tensions running high before the first media timeout, both benches were assessed technical fouls with 15:47 remaining.

Brown was in the bonus early in the second half at the 12:22 mark. Looking to swing momentum in their favor, the Bears came down the floor and cut the lead to 11. But Maia picked up his fourth foul moments later.

The Bears had cut the lead to eight before Mike Rowley made a three with 11 minutes left to keep Brown in check. The freshman forward took the ball down the lane on the ensuing possession for the basket to bring the lead back to 13.

Shooting woes and turnovers made Mike Rowley’s lay-up at the 10:28 mark the final field goal of the game for the Great Danes. UAlbany committed three straight turnovers after Rowley’s basket, and Puk picked up his fourth foul with 8:03 remaining. The Bears went on a 7-0 run to come within four with seven minutes left, 58-54. The Purple & Gold went 0-for-4 from the field for the final 10 minutes of the game and 6-for-18 overall in the second half.

Sam Rowley, Shengelia, Johnson and DJ Evans combined to go 14-for-18 (.778) in the final 2:28 of the contest to put the game out of reach for Brown. The Great Danes shot twice as many free throws in the final 2:28 as they did in the rest of the second half.

Sam Rowley nearly bested his career high in points with 20. The junior forward went 12-of-15 from the line and 4-for-9 from the field. Rowley’s career high is 21.

Senior Gary Johnson returned to the starting line-up against Brown and notched a career-high 16 points.

“I thought we gave up a few easy baskets because we were so focused on McGonagill,” said Brown. “We couldn’t let him beat us.”

With the total number of fouls between the teams reaching 59, Mike Rowley and Levan Shengelia played a season-high 19 and 17 minutes, respectively. The newcomers combined for 15 of UAlbany’s 74 points.

Will Brown’s squad shot a season-high 46 free throws and made a season-high 35 (.761), which ranks tied for 20th nationally in single-game made free throws. The Bears shot 33 free throws and made just 17 (.515).

UAlbany returns home to SEFCU Arena to face Colgate at 7 p.m., on Saturday, Dec. 14.



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