Danes’ victory is no beauty

The University at Albany traded style points for another victory Monday night.
PHOTOGRAPHER:

The University at Albany traded style points for another victory Monday night.

Struggling from the floor, behind the arc and at the line, the Great Danes still played strong enough defense to bounce Bryant for the second time this season, 57-47, before a small crowd of 1,971 at SEFCU Arena.

Although the Great Danes won their fifth straight, they shot just 32 percent from the floor, 25 percent from three-point territory and 64 percent from the line.

Fortunately for Albany, Bryant was even colder in all the shooting departments. The Bulldogs connected on 32 percent from the floor and 14.3 percent from three-point range.

About the only positive number that stood out for the Danes was the 46-32 edge on the boards.

Albany head coach Will Brown wasn’t overly concerned about his team’s frigid shooting numbers.

“It was ugly. When you don’t make shots, the zone gets tighter,” he said. “The good news is that when we shot it and missed it, we chased it. We’ve been pretty good about that over the last couple of years.”

Brown did question his team’s shot selection however.

“For us, 20 threes is too many. We’re a lot better when we shoot between 12 to 14, and we already shot 14 threes at the half,” Brown said.

“But we played 11 guys, and when we were focused, we played some pretty good defense early in the second half. Sure, tonight was an ugly win, but they don’t ask you how, but rather if.”

Several Danes played well, despite the overall numbers. Freshman point guard Anthony Raffa scored a game-high 17 points, registered five assists and grabbed six rebounds. He was 5-for-10 from the floor and 5-for-5 from the line.

Sophomore guard Tim Ambrose, who was in foul trouble most of the game and played only 16 minutes, still scored 13 points on 4-for-5 shooting from the floor. Senior Brian Connelly, who made his first four shots, finished 5-for-11.

Junior forward Scotty McRae grabbed eight rebounds, and freshman swingman Billy Allen grabbed seveen for the Danes.

Bringing the Danes’ shooting percentages down were junior Will Harris, who was 0-for-6 from the floor;

senior swingman Jerel Hastings, who was 1-for-7; and McRae, who was 0-for-5.

“In the first half, the paint was wide open in the middle of the zone, and we focused on that,” said Connelly.

Raffa, whose job is to distribute the ball to the open man, said he ran out of options when his teammates kept misfiring.

“They were open, so I gave them the ball,” he said. “The guys had no other choice but to shoot the ball, because they were open. He [Brown] calls the set, and whoever is open, I get them the ball.”

The teams exchanged leads in an extremely low-scoring half until Albany scored five points in a row to move ahead, 20-15.

A three-pointer by Louis Barraza put the Danes on top, 25-20, and Raffa drilled a wide-open trey with 25 seconds left to allow the Danes to take a 28-22 halftime lead.

After the Bulldogs scored the first basket of the second half, the Danes went on a 19-4 tear to open up a 47-28 cushion with 9:28 to go. Ambrose connected for all 13 of his points during that stretch, which also included treys by Raffa and Barraza.

But the Bulldogs stayed around, eventually cutting their deficit to 12 before the Danes pulled away again.

The final five minutes were contested at the free-throw line. Albany made eight of its final 11 foul shots to clinch the win.

“Bryant makes you work hard. I think the tone of the game was set early,” said Brown. “We’ve just got to work hard and get better. At 5-2, we’re in good shape, but I had hoped that by now we would have established a rotation. I’m letting a lot of guys play right now, because they are earning their playing time. I think that is hurting us and not helping us, right now.”

The Danes are off to their best start since the 1997-98 season. They play crosstown rival Siena Saturday at Times Union Center.

“Too much is made of this game,” said Brown. “Saturday can’t come quick enough. Nobody thinks we have a shot, but we’re better than people think we are. We’ve got seven guys on this team who have never heard of Siena.”

“I know it’s a big rivalry, but I don’t know much about them,” admitted Raffa. “Still, I’m really looking forward to the game.”

BRYANT (47)

Lyell 1-4 2-2 4, Gresham 3-11 0-1 6, Wright 2-3 3-4 7, Birrell 3-7 0-0 9, Latham 6-13 4-16 16, Lambert 0-3 0-0 0, Thomas 0-0 0-0 0, Pontes 1-4 0-0 2, McLean 0-2 0-0 0, Parzych 0-0 2-2 2, LeClerc 0-2 1-2 1. Totals: 16-49 12-17 47.

ALBANY (57)

Harris 0-6 0-0 0, Connelly 5-11 3-5 13, Gifford 0-0 0-0 0, Raffa 5-10 5-5 17, Ambrose 4-5 4-6 13, Allen 1-7 0-0 0, Hastings 1-7 0-0 2, McRae 0-5 3-6 3, Johnson 0-1 1-2 1, Barraza 2-5 0-0 6, Covington 1-1 0-1 2. Totals: 18-56 16-25 57.

Halftime: Albany 28-22. Three-point goals: Bryant 3-21 (Lyell 0-2, Gresham 0-4, Birrell 3-6, Latham 0-5, Lambertg 0-3, LeClerc 0-1), Albany 5-20 (Harris 0-2, Raffa 2-5, Ambrose 1-2, Allen 0-3, Hastings 0-1, McRae 0-1, Barraza 2-5). Rebounds: Bryant 32 (Wright 9), Albany 46 (McRae 8). Assists: Bryant 10 (Latham 4 ), Albany 12 (Raffa 5). Personal fouls: Bryant 20, Albany 18. Officials: Robert Adams, Alan Libardoni, Joe Smoot. Attendance: 1,971.

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