University at Albany’s defense struggled all night until the Great Danes needed it the most.
Mike Black’s defensive coverage on Maine leading scorer Gerald McLemore in the final seconds of the game helped the Great Danes hold off the Black Bears, 76-75, in what turned out to be a battle for first place in the America East Conference Saturday night at SEFCU Arena.
After John Puk’s free throw gave the Danes a 76-73 lead with 1:09 to go, Justin Edwards scored on a put-back of a McLemore miss with 51 seconds remaining.
The Great Danes inbounded the ball and called a timeout with 46.3 seconds on the clock to set up a play for Gerardo Suero, who tried to drive hard to the rim but was rejected by Mike Allison with 26 seconds to go.
Maine gained possession of the ball and called a timeout of its own with 17.1 seconds left to set up what the Black Bears hoped would be the game-winning play. But Maine took too much time to run the play.
Eventually, McLemore and Black found themselves near the top of the key, with McLemore’s back to the basket. He tried to spin around and made contact with Black, who in turn got his feet tangled with McLemore, and both players fell to the court with less than three seconds left.
Both players looked up at the nearest referee, but no call was made, and the final buzzer sounded, giving the Danes their seventh straight home victory. UAlbany is now 4-1 and tied for first place in the conference. The Danes are 12-7 overall.
Maine fell to 2-2 and 8-7.
“I thought it was a foul both ways,” said Black, who not only made the key defensive play, but also finished with 15 points, three assists and matched his career high with nine rebounds for the second straight game. “He swung his arms and hit me in the face. Then, my foot got tangled up with his. I thought we both fouled each other. I would have been heated if they called a foul on me, though.”
Of course, UAlbany head coach Will Brown agreed with Black.
“I thought it was an offensive foul [on McLemore],” Brown said. “If they weren’t going to call the offensive call, they weren’t going to call the foul on Mike.”
Black is the one who wanted to defend McLemore, the nation’s 15th-best scorer at 20.2 ppg, on the final play.
“Michael Black came to me in the final timeout and said ‘Coach, let me guard McLemore.’ I told him, ‘You want him, you’ve got him,’ ” said Brown.
Suero finished with 26 points, going 14-for-16 from the line, while Logan Aronhalt chipped in with 12 points. Sophomore forward Luke Devlin scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds.
Justin Edwards led Maine with 19 points, while McLemore finished with 17. Allison and Kilian Cato added 12 and 11 points, respectively.
UAlbany travels to Boston University on Monday. The Terriers are just a half-game behind the Great Danes.
Fraser 2-6 0-1 4, Cato 3-6 2-2 11, Rogers 2-4 0-0 5, Edwards 5-12 9-10 19, McLemore
5-16 4-4 17, McAllian 0-1 0-0 0, Singleton 1-5 3-3 5, Pollard 1-2 0-1 2, Wilcher 0-0 0-0 0, Allison 6-7 0-1 12. Totals: 25-59 18-22 75.
Devlin 4-10 4-4 13, Metcalf 2-4 0-0 4, Aronhalt 4-10 1-1 12, Black 4-10 4-6 15, Suero
6-16 14-16 26, Iati 0-3 0-0 0, Gibson 0-0 0-0 0, Watts 1-3 0-0 3, Guerrier 1-6 0-0 2, Puk 0-0 1-2 1. Totals: 22-62 24-29 76.
Halftime: UAlbany 38-37. Three-point goals: Maine 7-18 (Cato 3-5, Rogers 1-2, Edwards 0-1, McLemore 3-7, McAllian 0-1, Singleton 0-2); UAlbany 8-24 (Devlin 1-2, Aronhalt 3-5, Black 3-8, Suero 0-2, Iati 0-3, Watts 1-2, Guerrier 0-2). Rebounds: Maine 36 (Rogers 5, Edwards 5, Allison 5), UAlbany 42 (Devlin 9, Black 9). Assists: Maine 11 (Singleton 3), UAlbany 11 (Suero 4). Personal fouls: Maine 23, UAlbany 18. Fouled out: Frazer. Officials: Jeff Plunkett, Ken Turner, Carl Luciano. Attendance: 2,573.
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Categories: College Sports