Dancing Danes Defeat Vermont, 53-49
BURLINGTON, Vt. - A full team-effort that was led by Mike Black's 14-point performance pushed the University at Albany past Vermont, 53-49, in the America East Conference Finals on Saturday, March 16 at Patrick Gymnasium. This is the first time in conference tournament history that a number 4 seed took home the conference tournament championship.
Behind Black's 14 points, the Great Dane bench came up huge, scoring 27 of the team's 53 points. Junior forward Luke Devlin led the charge off the bench, scoring 12 points and shot a perfect 6-of-6 from the field and grabbed five rebounds. Redshirt-freshman guard Peter Hooley filled the stat sheet off the bench with eight points, four assists, four steals, and two rebounds.
Vermont began the contest with a big 10-0 run to start with 17:18 left in the half. Trey Blue led the charge with five points, one three-pointer off a missed free-throw to begin the run.
Black stopped the momentum with the Great Danes first basket to cut the deficit to eight, 10-2, with 16:57 remaining. The basket led to a 11-0 run and the Great Danes first lead of 11-10, with 11:19 left in the half.
UAlbany's defense forced five consecutive turnovers during a seven-minute stretch to obtain the early lead.
Vermont took the lead back at 14-11, with 9:09 remaining, and UAlbany responded with a 17-6 run to finish the half. The Catamounts turnovers were key for the Great Danes during the run, as Peter Hooley recorded three steals and converted all three with layups.
The Great Danes led by eight, 28-20, at the end of the first half. Black led all scorers at the half, with 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the floor.
The Catamounts started the second half, like the first half, on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to two, 28-26, with 15:49 remaining. Two big three-point plays by Ethan O'Day and Luke Apfeld were the sparked the charge.
With Vermont looking to gain momentum from an out-of-bounds play for O'Day to nailed a dunk, UAlbany's Black came right back down the floor and hit a big three to keep the Great Danes up six, 41-35, with 7:35 left.
The Catamonts came back with an 8-2 run to grab their first lead, 45-43, since the 11:20 mark of the first half. Sandro Carissimo hit back-to-back buckets capping the run to give Vermont the two-point lead with 2:50 remaining.
UAlbany's Iati responded with back-to-back three pointers, his first points of the game, to reclaim the lead, 49-45, with 1:10 remaining.
After Vermont's Trey Blue hit a layup to cut the deficit to two, 51-49, Great Dane junior center John Puk shut the door with the final two free throws to send his team dancing.
UAlbany's 24 wins are the most single season wins in program history. The Great Danes will wait to hear who and where they play on ESPN's Selection Show on Sunday, March 17.