Johnson’s Career-High 28 Points Leads Men’s Basketball Over Maine 85-78
ORONO, MAINE – UAlbany men’s basketball (9-9, 3-2 AE) got back in the win column on Saturday afternoon with an 85-78 win at Maine. Senior guard Gary Johnson scored a career-high 28 points in the victory.
“We wanted to be aggressive and not settle for jumpers,” said Johnson. “I just wanted to attack and get my opportunities. I take pride in my defense first and I think the rest took care of itself.”
The game in Orono started off physical, with the teams committing a combined three fouls in the first two minutes. Starting forward Sam Rowley picked up his second personal at the 16:53 mark and did not return for the remainder of the half.
Maine missed four free throws and committed three turnovers to help propel a 10-0 UAlbany run in the opening four minutes of the game. At the first media timeout, the Great Danes were 5-of-7 (.714) from the field.
The Black Bears responded with 12 minutes left in the half by hitting two-straight threes to close the UAlbany lead. But the Purple & Gold continued to convert down the floor off of Black Bear turnovers. At the 11:47 mark in the first half, UAlbany had seven points off turnovers, four steals and hadn’t committed a turnover.
With 10 minutes left in the first half, Maine went on a 13-2 run after UAlbany turned the ball over twice. A three with 7:34 left in the first gave the Black Bears their first lead, 26-25.
Maine put the Purple & Gold in the bonus with 7:14 left in the first half, and Gary Johnson made six free throws in the final seven minutes to swing the lead back to the Great Danes.
Gary Johnson was 3-for-4 from the field and 6-for-8 from the free throw line to lead the Great Danes at the half with 12 points. Will Brown’s squad entered the locker room at the break with a 42-39 lead and their highest halftime point total of the season.
The second half started off rocky for the Great Danes, as Sam Rowley picked up his third and fourth fouls with 14 minutes left in the game.
His brother Mike Rowley stepped in for two steals and one assist in the next several possessions. A frustrated Black Bears team sent Peter Hooley to the line for a pair of technical foul free throws after committing three-straight turnovers.
Mike Rowley continued to make big plays mid-way through the second half. Rowley took an offensive foul after Maine cut the lead to nine for UAlbany, then headed to the other end for a lay-up.
Johnson took over the game with six minutes to go, scoring nine points in one minute. He scored back-to-back baskets before forcing Maine’s second-leading scorer Akanda-Coronel into his fourth foul. Johnson made the basket to get to the line for the and-one. He went to the other end for a huge block before hitting another jumper with five minutes left.
The Great Danes went scoreless for three minutes late in the second half, and Maine cut the UAlbany lead to three with 55 seconds left. Six made free throws from Hooley in the last 20 seconds of the game gave the Purple & Gold the 85-78 win.
UAlbany scored a season-high 85 points in the win. Johnson scored a career high and individual single-game season high 28 points on 9-for-11 from the field and 10-for-14 from the line.
The Great Danes (25-32, .781) made 10 more free throws than the Black Bears (15-19, .789). Hooley went 12-for-12 from the line, marking his third time going perfect from the line in a single game when attempting 10 or more free throws. He had 19 points and six assists.
“We just have to find a way at this point in the season,” said head coach Will Brown. “We were confident that we would be able to score, but we needed to be able to make stops. We made enough plays to come out with one more point than them.”
The Great Danes return home to host Binghamton (4-13, 1-3 AE) on Monday at 7 p.m. The game against the Bearcats is FREEdom Night honoring Martin Luther King Jr., and Military Appreciation Night. The game will be broadcast on Time Warner Cable Sports Channel.