UAlbany men’s basketball off to 0-2 America East start after loss at UMBC

FILE - UAlbany men’s basketball head coach Dwayne Killings.

FILE - UAlbany men’s basketball head coach Dwayne Killings.

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ALBANY – The UAlbany men’s basketball program suffered its third consecutive loss, and second to start America East Conference play, Thursday against UMBC despite a game-high 26 points from Gerald Drumgoole Jr.

On the road at Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena in Baltimore, the Great Danes demonstrated better focus and resolve than in their previous loss to New Hampshire, but UMBC still secured a 92-83 victory at UAlbany’s expense.

“I thought our preparation was a lot better — and it comes down to toughness, and that’s one of the things we talked about a lot. I think we had some toughness plays today that I was excited about because that should be part of our DNA.” said UAlbany head coach Dwayne Killings, who had described his team’s performance as “unacceptable” in a 67-51 loss last weekend against New Hampshire.

In a game that saw both teams exceed 50 points in the second half, UAlbany (0-2 America East, 5-11 overall) never led, but found itself within a point of UMBC (1-1, 10-6) after a basket from Sarju Patel with less than six minutes to go. UAlbany mostly stayed within a possession of UMBC for the next couple minutes, but a 5-0 spurt from the home team provided head coach Jim Ferry’s some cushion and the Retrievers maintained a multiple-possession lead for the game’s final three minutes.

“I think we brought it this game,” Drumgoole said after the loss, which was UAlbany’s third in a row after it had won two of three. “Obviously, we didn’t have the outcome we wanted, but we worked really hard, man. Get them next time.”

UMBC led 40-32 at halftime after a 9-0 run that a pair of free throws from Drumgoole snapped right before the break. Drumgoole scored 11 points in the first half to lead UAlbany, which made 9 of 28 shots from the field and committed 10 turnovers in the opening 20 minutes.  For UMBC, four players scored six or more points in the first half, led by Colton Lawrence with nine. UMBC made 15 of 32 shots from the field, and made up for a 2 of 13 showing from 3-point territory by only committing five turnovers.

After halftime, both offenses clicked. UMBC scored 52 points on 19 of 31 shooting, while UAlbany registered 51 points and made 18 of 34 field-goal attempts. Killings said he wants his team to be able to play fast, but that type of tempo needs to come from getting defensive stops.

“When you think about transition, though, it’s about your ability to guard in the half-court,” Killings said. “I mean, you’ve got to be able to get stops, even if you extend your defense. You have to be a good team in terms of your ability to react, to move and think, and find a way to stop the possession.”

For UMBC, Jacob Boonyasith scored a team-high 21 points as one of five double-digit scorers in the win. Jarvis Doles, who played the last two seasons at UAlbany before transferring to UMBC, scored 11 points.

“It was pretty cool. He’s family to us,” UAlbany’s Aaron Reddish said of facing Doles. “He was part of the squad last year. So it was pretty cool to compete against him.”

Reddish had 14 points before fouling out, a points total that teammate Da’Kquan Davis matched. Also for UAlbany, Jonathan Beagle had 13 points and nine rebounds, while Patel added 10 points and 10 rebounds.

UAlbany next plays Sunday against UMass Lowell at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy. Including a two-point win Thursday against Maine, UMass Lowell is off to a 14-2 start that includes wins in both of its league games.

“I think we just need to keep building on our defense, find a way to get multiple stops, find a way to buckle down at the end of the game,” Drumgoole said of the focus ahead of Sunday’s game.

Contact Michael Kelly at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @ByMichaelKelly.

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