UAlbany knocked out in America East quarterfinals

Boston University's board work knocks UAlbany out of the America East quarterfinals.

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Employing tough defense and even tougher work on the boards, Boston University ended University at Albany’s reign as America East Conference champion with a grind-it-out 68-64 overtime victory Saturday night in the conference tournament quarterfinals at Binghamton University’s Events Center.

The two-time defending champ­ion Great Danes were outrebounded for only the second time this season, and the Terriers’ harassing defense bothered them all evening.

In truth, the Terriers, who lost two regular-season games to the Great Danes, should have won the contest in regulation, but fifth-year senior guard Jon Iati sent it into overtime by sinking a three-pointer with 9.9 seconds left.

BU then took a pair of four-point leads early in the extra period. Carlos Strong hit a pull-up jumper in the lane with 58.4 seconds remaining for a 64-60 lead, but freshman Al Turley made a pair of free throws for Albany to close the gap to 64-62 with 44 seconds on the clock.

Junior forward Brian Connelly could have knotted the score four seconds later after making a steal, but he missed two free throws.

Scott Brittain then made two foul shots with 28.1 seconds left to give BU a 66-62 lead before Brian Lillis converted two free throws four seconds later to give the Danes some life.

When Tyler Morris made one of two foul shots on the next possession, the Terriers had a 67-64 lead. Strong then blocked Josh Martin’s long jumper from the top of the key to ice the win. Freshman guard John Holland, the league’s rookie of the year, made one of two shots from the line with 3.3 seconds left for the Terriers.

“I’m extremely proud of the toughness our kids showed in the game,” said BU head coach Dennis Wolff. “I’ve admired Albany coach Will Brown for his tough kids, and I told our kids in the locker room that I wanted them to be just as tough.”

“I felt very calm in the overtime,” said Morris. “We didn’t panic. This game is very fulfilling for us.”

The Great Danes not only struggled on the boards, but they also had problems shooting the ball from both the floor and the line. Albany shot only 31.9 percent from the floor and missed 11 free throws.

“I think that this is what this time of year is all about, two good teams giving it everything they’ve got,” said Brown.

“BU played great basketball down the stretch. We got outrebounded today, and we’re one of the top rebounding teams in the country. Hats off to BU and their coach, Dennis Wolff. They have the kind of program we tried to copy when I first became head coach at Albany.”

The Danes felt they left nothing on the court.

“We gave it everything we could,” said Iati. “It wasn’t the

storybook ending. We knew this could be our last game.”

“I didn’t want to come out of the game,” said Lillis. “They swarmed us a lot, and we missed a lot of open shots. That’s one of the things I don’t want to remember about this game.”

“They crawled into us, and it bothered us,” said Brown about the Terriers’ defense.

Strong led BU with 17 points. Holland added 16, while Corey Lowe chipped in with 11.

Lillis, a first-team all-conference player who led the Danes in virtually every category this season, scored 24 points, including 16 of 18 at the line. Iati, one of the school’s all-time leaders in both points and three-point baskets, finished with 16 points.

The Great Danes jumped out to a 19-10 lead in the first nine minutes with help from two three-pointers apiece from Iati and senior Brent Wilson.

UAlbany (15-15) went ahead by 10 points on several occasions, including a 29-19 advantage with 6:06 left in the opening half.

After Tim Ambrose missed one of two free throw attempts with 1:11 before the half, the Great Danes still owned a comfortable 30-21 lead, but the Terriers scored the final eight points of the half.

At one point, the Danes missed nine consecutive shots and four straight free throws.

Carlos Strong drilled a pair of three-pointers in the final 54 seconds, including one at the buzzer to help BU close the gap to 30-29.

BOSTON U. (68)

Holland 5-12 4-6 16, Brittain 1-3 5-11 7, Wolff 3-7 1-1 8, Lowe 4-15 3-5 11, Morris 1-1 3-4 6, Strong 6-8 1-3 17, Johnson 1-1 0-0 3, Gotzler 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-47 17-30 68.


Connelly 3-3 3-6 9, Wilson 2-6 2-2 8, Turley 1-2 3-4 5, Iati 5-8 2-4 16, Lillis 4-17 16-18 24, Martin 0-8 0-0 0, Hastings 0-1 0-0 0, Ambrose 0-2 1-2 1, Covington 0-0 0-0 0, Gifford 0-0 1-3 1. Totals 15-47 28-39 64.

Halftime—UAlbany, 30-29. End Of Regulation—56-56. Three-Point Goals—Boston U. 9-22 (Strong 4-5, Holland 2-7, Morris 1-1, Johnson 1-1, Wolff 1-3, Lowe 0-5), UAlbany 6-17 (Iati 4-6, Wilson 2-5, Lillis 0-2, Martin 0-4). Fouled Out—Brittain, Gifford, Lowe, Wilson, Wolff. Rebounds—Boston U. 37 (Brittain 9), UAlbany 31 (Turley 5). Assists—Boston U. 14 (Morris 5), UAlbany 8 (Lillis 5). Total Fouls—Boston U. 31, UAlbany 23. A—2,831.

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