ALBANY — Great Danes head coach Dwayne Killings issued a pair of apologies after Wednesday’s loss against Maine, the last-place team in the America East Conference men’s basketball standings.
First, to the fans at SEFCU Arena who watched as Maine made one 3-pointer after another in its 73-63 win.
“I would like to apologize to anybody that came out to the game today,” Killings said. “We were not ready to compete and take advantage of the opportunity to play a college basketball game today — and that’s on me.”
The second apology was delivered to UAlbany’s players after a contest that included the first technical foul of Killings’ tenure leading the Great Danes.
“And, also, I just apologize to our team. I thought we had a little bit of life in us, and I got an untimely technical foul in the game, which did not help us in the situation,” said Killings, who was hired last March.
It was, to put it lightly, a rough night for the Great Danes on their home floor. Back at SEFCU Arena after earning a road win against Hartford, the league’s defending champion, UAlbany trailed by as many as 16 points in the second half of its loss against a club that had previously only beaten one Division I team this season.
“I don’t think we were tough enough. Down the line, from head to toe,” UAlbany forward Jarvis Doles said. “I just didn’t think, mentally or physically, we were tough enough today. As a team, I felt like we kind of wilted when the going got tough, and you can’t do that.”
In a game that pitted UAlbany’s best-in-the-conference, per-possession defense against Maine’s worst-in-the-league offense, Maine (2-10 America East, 5-18 overall) connected on 13 of 22 3-pointers against a UAlbany (6-6, 10-14) defense that looked out of sync throughout the contest.
“I don’t think we were focused enough on the opportunity. We talk about being consumed in the moment. We weren’t,” Killings said. “I thought we were a little distracted. I thought we were looking ahead a little bit. The entire day just didn’t go right. It did not go right, top to bottom — and you could feel it the minute the game started.”
Killings said he did not “want to get into” specifics when asked about what hadn’t gone right for the Great Danes leading up to the contest, which saw the club record its third loss in its last four games. But the coach made clear that Wednesday, well before tip-off, hadn’t been one of the Great Danes’ best days.
“There’s a standard, the way that we do things here — and for our program, you can’t deviate away from that,” Killings said. “And, today, we did — and this is what happens. Certain things are not acceptable if you want to become a championship program, to win games. You know, winners win for a reason. It’s an everyday process. It’s how you show up to shootaround. It’s how you go into warmups. It’s how you go into taping. It’s how you go into the game plans. It’s how you focus in timeouts, how connected that we are. It’s how we communicate with each other. There’s no deviation away from any of those things — and, if you do, this is what happens.”
UAlbany trailed 29-28 at halftime, but appeared ready to take control and send Maine to its sixth consecutive loss early in the second half. After scoring the final six points of the first half, UAlbany started the second with a 14-3 run.
And, then, UAlbany’s defense — as it too often did Wednesday night — relaxed. Maine made a trio of 3s in a 9-0 run to get back into the game, and kept charging from there. A basket from Aaron Reddish gave UAlbany its final lead of the night at 49-47 with more than 10 minutes to play, then Maine rallied for a 23-5 run to take its game-high lead at 70-54.
During that run, Killings received his technical foul after an offensive foul on UAlbany’s Paul Newman. The technical was given with Maine up only three points; within two minutes, the Black Bears had a three-possession lead, and held an advantage of at least that size the rest of the way.
“I can’t do that,” Killings said of receiving a technical foul.
Maine received a game-high 21 points from Maks Klanjscek, who made all five of his 3-point attempts. Vukasin Masic added 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
For UAlbany, Matt Cerruti scored 14 points, while Doles and Jamel Horton each added 10.
Both teams committed 11 turnovers, but Maine had twice as many assists as UAlbany’s nine.
Fifth-place UAlbany will next play first-place Vermont on Saturday at SEFCU Arena. The Catamounts are 11-0 in America East play, and are coming off an 82-51 win Wednesday against Binghamton.
Before playing Vermont, which beat UAlbany earlier this season in Burlington, Killings said the Great Danes’ focus will be on making sure they’re in position to give a better effort than they did against Maine.
“You just have to go about things a certain way, every single day — and, if you don’t, this is what happens,” Killings said. “And I’m trying to teach our guys that. It’s easier said than done. And, today, we learned a hard lesson.”