Motivation comes in many forms.
The first time the University at Albany faced the University of New Hampshire, the Danes let a 53-47
lead evaporate in the final seven minutes, allowing the Wildcats to rally for a 75-66 win on Jan. 3.
After the game, UNH veteran Mike Christensen, quoted in a New Hampshire paper, was less than complimentary about the Great Danes.
“You’re going to tell me that the five Albany put out there are better than the five we put out there? Absolutely not,” he said.
The Danes took exception to the comment and earned a strong measure of revenge with a convincing 80-59 victory over the Wildcats in an America East Conference game Wednesday night at SEFCU
Albany not only shot extremely well, including 50 percent from the floor, 53.8 percent from three-point range and 82.6 percent from the line, but also held the Wildcats to 33.9 percent shooting, one of the best defensive efforts of the season.
By the way, Christensen was held scoreless in 17 minutes.
“Losing that first game was definitely on our minds, and we didn’t like what Christensen said,” Brent Wilson said. Wilson collected his first double-figure scoring performance in the last four games with 13 points. He also added eight rebounds.
“We all heard about what he said. We came into the league at the same time,” added Brian Lillis, who contributed 19 points, nine rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot in 27 minutes.
“We got the first punch out of the gate,” said Albany head coach Will Brown. “Our energy level was excellent both on offense and defense. This was a different Albany team than the one UNH saw last month. We had some added motivation.”
Albany struck early and often, quickly building a 15-4 advantage when freshman Tim Ambrose scored six quick points in the first five minutes.
A three-point play by junior center Jimmie Covington stretched Albany’s advantage to 24-8 with 10:11 left in the first half, and a three-pointer by Ambrose put Albany comfortably in front at 29-13.
The Great Danes led by as many as 18 before the Wildcats bombed away for three treys in the final four minutes to cut their deficit to 13,
41-28, at the intermission.
When Tyrone Conley nailed a three-pointer early in the second half, the Danes’ lead was sliced to 10, and all of sudden, it was a game once more.
But Lillis came back with a three-point play, and Jerel Hastings tacked on a pair of foul shots.
Albany took a 53-36 advantage on a Brian Connelly layup with 11:57 left. UNH continued to struggle to score inside the three-point arc and never made a serious run the rest of the way.
It was the ninth time this season that the Albany defense held an opponent under 40 percent shooting from the floor.
“UNH spreads the floor and shoots a lot of threes. They are a difficult team to defend,” said Brown.
“Tonight, we played well on both ends of the floor. We also held a large rebounding advatage [46-24], which also was a big help.”
Wilson said he is getting used to his new role coming off the bench. “I get to see what is going on in the the game before I come in,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ambrose, who has started the last couple of games in Wilson’s place, also likes his new role.
“It shows that Coach has confidence in me,” said Ambrose, who scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds.
UNH was paced by Conley (17), Tyrece Gibbs (16) and Alvin Abreu (13).
NEW HAMPSHIRE (59)
Christensen 0-3 00 0, DiLiegro 0-2 0-0 0, Gibbs 5-11 3-4 16, Gilchrese 0-4 4-6 4, Abreu 5-14 0-1 13, Valladares 1-3 2-2 4, Tchatchoua 2-7 1-3 5, Conley 6-12 1-2 17. Totals: 19-56 11-18 59.
Hastings 2-4 4-4 8, Connelly 3-6 0-0 6, Turley 0-1 2-4 2, Lillis 7-15 4-5 19, Ambrose 5-8 3-3 14, Martin 2-5 2-2 8, Moores 0-0 0-0 0, Iati 1-2 2-2 4, Wilson 5-9 0-0 13, Covington 2-4 2-3 6, Gifford 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 27-54 19-23 80.
Halftime: Albany 41-28. Three-point goals: New Hampshire 10-24 (Christensen 0-2, Gibbs 3-7, Gilchrese 0-1, Abreu 3-7, Tchatchoua 0-1, Conley 4-6); Albany 7-13 (Lillis 1-2, Ambose 1-2, Martin 2-2, Iati 0-1, Wilson 3-6). Rebounds: UNH 24 (Gibbs 8), Albany 46 (Lillis 9). Assists: UNH 9 (Gibbs 4, Abreu 4), Albany 14 (Connelly 3, Hastings 3). Personal fouls: UNH 18, Albany 21. Fouled out: DiLiegro. Officials: Jeffrey Bryant, Ben Vasconcells, Ken Jayne. Attendance: 1,953.
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