TROY — Monday night’s men’s basketball game between UAlbany and Union College had a real pre-Division I vibe to it. Back when the school on Western Avenue was known as Albany State.
That’s because the game was close for most of the time, like they were two Division III schools in the Capital District battling for supremacy.
But they’re not anymore, and UAlbany did what it needed to in the second half to win the game 87-75 at the McDonough Sports Complex at Hudson Valley Community College.
The credit for that final score goes to Union, which was 0-2 entering the game and probably had some questions about its defense after allowing Cortland 87 points and Gordon 106 in the Mike Daley Memorial Tournament this past Friday and Saturday. But holding a Division I team to 87 points, and just 29 at halftime, is something to feel good about.
Senior guard Mike Manley played fearlessly and led all scorers with 28 points, including five 3-pointers, which helped him climb into the top 10 on Union’s all-time career list.
Brian Noone and Edward Baptiste each added 14 points.
“You watch those two guys [Manley and Noone] and see the level of competitiveness. They may not be the biggest or the quickest athlete on the floor, but they ultimately find a way,” Union coach Chris Murphy said.
“I told them after the game that I’m proud of them as a coach and as a Union basketball alum for how they wore those jerseys tonight,” Murphy added. “They represented our program, our college and our alums in a very positive and ultra-competitive way, and I’m proud to be their coach.”
BIG NIGHT FOR BIGS
Freshman Jonathan Beagle, fresh off being named America East Rookie of the Week, got his first collegiate double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds. The 6-foot-7 Tairi Ketner also had good minutes off the bench with six points and three rebounds.
UAlbany got off to a fast start in the second half, quickly drawing four Union fouls, and the big guys not only helped cause that, but benefited from it as well.
“I thought we were more aggressive getting to the basket and getting to the lane, which allowed us to get in the bonus a little earlier,” said UAlbany coach Bobby Jordan, serving as head coach for the last of Dwayne Killings’ five suspended games. “And that also allowed us to get Beagle and Ketner some rebounds around the rim, getting putbacks. I applauded those guys in the locker room because I thought our bigs [Trey Hutcheson], Beagle, I thought they came to play tonight. They saved our guys. They answered the bell with the physical game plan we wanted them to play around the basket.”
“My teammates attacking, getting the ball around the rim made it easy for me,” Beagle said. “I got a lot of offensive rebounds because of that, my teammates driving. It feels good, but obviously want to get a better win than this.”
THE GAME HE’S BEEN WAITING FOR
Gerald Drumgoole Jr. had a breakout night with a team-high 26 points for UAlbany, to go along with six rebounds and five assists. Having only played in one game last year due to injuries, it was a sign of what the UAlbany staff knew he was capable of.
“It’s a blessing,” Drumgoole said. “It’s something I’ve been working for ever since I got my first surgery. It just goes to show, don’t give up on your dreams.
“Honestly, it’s all about the work you put in,” he added. “Me and the team has been working hard. The win wasn’t pretty, it was an ugly win. I feel like we played down to the level of the competition — congrats to Union for giving us a great battle.”
ALL ABOUT CONFIDENCE
Manley’s underhanded layup with two seconds left gave the Dutchmen a 30-29 lead at halftime, their second lead of the half.
“We just needed to come out with more swagger,” Beagle said of the halftime message. “Like how we came out [to start] against Towson, Siena. We didn’t come out like our usual selves. We need to just go out there and kill, that’s what every other team is doing in our conference.”
“I was really disappointed with our [first-half] defensive effort,” Jordan said. “I wasn’t worried about our offense at all, even scoring 29 points. Going in, we knew we were going to be able to score the ball. We were playing selfishly defensively. That’s something we need to take more pride in. I give the guys credit for holding each other accountable in the halftime locker room.”