TROY – Positive story lines have been few and far between for the struggling University at Albany men’s basketball team this season. Although Wednesday night’s game with Bryant featured another blowout loss, the Great Danes found a surprising weapon for the final five games.
Bryant got 23 points from Sherif Gross-Bullock to lead four double-digit scorers during a convincing 87-62 victory at Hudson Valley Community College’s McDonough Sports Complex. But 6-foot-8 junior Japannah Kellogg earned praise from his coach and his teammates after scoring 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the floor in only 15 minutes of play.
Kellogg has averaged just 5.5 minutes and 0.8 points per game in extremely limited action this season. His previous high was 4 points in 22 minutes at NJIT.
“My teammates were feeding me a lot of good passes and putting me into position to score,” Kellogg said.
Gerald Drumgoole Jr., who topped the Great Danes with 16 points, was very excited for his teammate.
“I want to make sure you all know that JP [Kellogg] is a great teammate and leader. He works very hard and today was just an example of him taking advantage of his opportunity,” Drumgoole said. “He doesn’t get to play that many minutes, but he came in and scored 15 points in 15 minutes and was huge for us tonight. I think it’s a step in the right direction for him and the rest of the team. Japannah was always very capable.”
“I’m not that surprised I got the call to play, because honestly I feel I’m one of the guys who is always cheering on the bench right from the start of the game,” Kellogg said. “So I don’t think it’s too much of a surprise that he calls my number. I just want to help out my teammates as much as I can. We all need to stay ready.”
UAlbany head coach Dwayne Killings was obviously upset that his team lost its eighth straight game in another one-sided fashion, but he did appreciate Kellogg’s fine effort and said it should lead to much more playing time.
“We got our butts kicked tonight,” Killings said. “Bryant obviously has a lot more guys who are older with a lot more experience than us, but that shouldn’t matter. I thought we got a few good looks but they didn’t drop in the basket. That’s kind of been the tale of the year for us.
“Obviously, the bright spot was Japannah Kellogg. He’s been working so hard, and I’m really proud of him. He stayed patient and took advantage of his opportunity today. Sometimes that happens when a guy stays with it, and hopefully he can get some more opportunities.”
Killings was asked why Kellogg’s performance was so much better tonight than any game all season.
“He had a positive mindset, energy and effort,” Killings said.
“The one thing about JP is that he’s gotten better. He’s worked hard and never complained,” Killings said. “I think his confidence is growing and we’ve got to give him a chance. I just think it’s the right thing to do at this point over the next couple of games and maybe see that the rotation will be a little different.”
Much like Saturday’s 87-68 loss to Vermont in the annual Big Purple Growl game, the Great Danes fell behind 17-2 to the Bulldogs. Bryant scored the game’s first 12 points – all by Gross-Bullock, who is averaging 16.4 points per game.
Bryant pulled out to a 51-27 halftime cushion and immediately kept the pressure on after the second-half tip with six consecutive points to stretch its advantage to 57-29.
UAlbany eventually cut its deficit to 82-58 on Sarju Patel’s 3-pointer, but the Bulldogs pulled away once more.
“The only way we can go is up,” said Drumgoole. “If we are able to make the playoffs and move out of the bottom of the standings with 5 games left, it would be a heck of a story. We still have a chance, if we can figure it out. If we don’t, it’s going to be unfortunate.”
Antwan Walker (15), Charles Pride (12) and Tyler Breisford also scored in double figures for Bryant (7-4, 16-8). Aaron Reddish scored 11 points and Jonathan Beagle contributed 9 points and 9 rebounds for the Great Danes (1-10, 6-20).
UAlbany travels to Binghamton Saturday and returns home next Wednesday to face UMBC.
Reach Bob Weiner at [email protected].
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Categories: At The Track, College Sports, UAlbany