ALBANY – Davon Dillard felt the faith. And he returned it the best way he could.
Dillard scored 12 of his 20 points in the decisive third quarter to help the Albany Patroons deliver a 109-84 win over Atlantic City in Game 3 of the TBL Northeast Division Finals at the Washington Avenue Armory Saturday.
Albany (23-4) advances to the Eastern Conference Finals against Huntsville, and as a bonus it will host potentially all three games, starting Thursday.
The Patroons led 49-47 at halftime, but then Dillard stepped up, scoring eight of the team’s first 10 points – the last on an impressive steal and dunk – to give Albany a 59-51 lead.
“I just had to lock in and figure how I could impact the game,” Dillard said. “One thing coach [Will Brown] said was, ‘Davon, I really believe in you, so I’m going to coach the hell out of you.’
“He tells me every day,” Dillard said. “He says, ‘I’m going to coach you whether you like it or not because I really believe in you,’ and that’s all I needed to hear.”
Albany extended the lead further in the third, getting more contributions across the board, and entering the fourth with a 76-59 lead.
The final quarter was just the cherry on top of the sundae.
“We made a commitment at halftime to be more aggressive,” Patroons head coach Will Brown said. “I think Atlantic City is the one team that made us better. They challenged us; we were on our heels most of this series. And I thought we got off our heels in the final 24 minutes of Game 3 of this series.”
The Patroons sensed the tide turning in the third, controlling the boards even more than they had to that point and getting out and running. And, as always, they share the ball well when things are clicking.
The Patroons had five others reach double figures. A.J. Mosby scored 18, Trevis Wyche and Anthony Moe each had 15, while Mike Williams and BJ Glasford added 12 and 10, respectively.
Jared Sam and Moe each pulled down 13 rebounds.
“We made a commitment at halftime to trap all ball screens on the side,” Brown said. “We really wanted to wear [Atlantic City point guard Frank] Turner down. He’s a dynamic point guard, but he’s small. We sped them up, and I thought we gave them a taste of their own medicine because of how physical they are.”
Atlantic City 25 22 12 25 – 84
Albany 26 23 27 33 – 109
Atlantic City scoring: Simmons 5-7-21, Banks 3-0-7, Turner 3-0-6, Hadden 2-1-6 Taylor 7-0-15, Green 6-0-12, Moore 3-0-6, Freeman-Daniels 4-1-11. Albany scoring: Dillard 7-6-20 Mosby 7-4-18, Wyche 5-3-15, M.Williams 5-0-12, Moe 5-4-15, Glasford 4-2-10, Show 1-0-2, Page 3-3-9, Sam 3-0-6, K.Williams 1-0-2. Scoring totals: Atlantic City, 33-9-84Albany, 41-22-109.
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