University at Albany opened the America East Conference season with a punctuation mark.
The Great Danes won one of their few blowout games this season with a resounding 65-48 triumph over the University of Maryland Baltimore County Wednesday night at SEFCU Arena.
After a close first half, UAlbany dominated in all facets of the game over the final 20 minutes. The Great Danes shot 45.5 percent from the floor, limited the Retrievers to 34.5 percent and held a 36-28 advantage on the boards. UAlbany also continued to excel at the line, sinking 20 of 25 shots, compared UMBC’s 5-for-9.
Senior guards Mike Black (17) and Jacob Iati (15) combined for 32 points, and the UAlbany bench outscored UMBC, 25-9.
“It was good to keep our foot on the gas pedal this time,” said Black. “Coming into this game, we knew that UMBC had three talented guys, and we knew we had to stop them. In the second half, we picked up the pace on the defensive level.”
UAlbany, 12-3 overall, never trailed and led by as many as 22 points, 57-35, with 6:02 remaining. The Danes then emptied their bench, with even freshman walk-on Reece Williams getting a chance to play. Eight players scored, and 13 Danes registered at least one minute of action.
“The best time to learn is from a win,” said Iati. “We haven’t played well with leads, but we maintained out intensity tonight, and we played well defensively for the whole game. It feels great to start the conference 1-0.”
UAlbany head coach Will Brown couldn’t find too much to complain about in this one.
“They’ve [the Retrievers] had no issues scoring this year. They average about 66 points a game. But my concern was not whether the teams would try to outscore each other. This was a game where we wanted to play physical and grind it out. I wasn’t that pleased with the way we played in the first half, but in the second half, we started attacking the rim. I think we played 20 minutes of good basketball.”
The Danes have won three straight games and are 6-1 at home.
“We missed some easy shots in the first half, but we had some momentum going into this game. You have to win your games at home,” said Brown, whose team used an 11-0 run in the second half to pull away. “We were holding on to the ball like we were giving birth to it at times in the first half, but then we started moving the ball around and hitting the open man. It’s good to get the first [league] one out of the way.”
UMBC, which dropped to 2-12, continues to struggle over the last few seasons, but acting head coach Aki Thomas said the Retrievers will eventually bounce back.
“The key to the game was turnovers and fouls,” Thomas said. “We made two unforced turnovers early in the second half, and we finished with 11 turnovers in the second half. We didn’t do a good job of sharing the ball. When you get to the line 25 times, you should win,” he added about the Great Danes.
“We lack confidence right now. There is a lot of doubt because there has been a lot of losing here. We’ve got to change the culture,” Thomas said.
“I believe I’m coaching a good group of guys, but we’re our own worst enemy.”
Still, Thomas admitted that UAlbany is one of the top teams in the conference.
“I like their team,” he said. “I like their guards, and their big men play physical. Their whole team has bought into their roles. They have a lot of veterans on that team. They win close games, and they get to the free-throw line.”
Peter Hooley contributed eight points, five assists and two steals, while Sam Rowley produced eight points and seven rebounds for UAlbany, which travels to Vermont Saturday.
Garner 1-1 0-0 2, Roseboro 6-11 0-0 12, Morgan 2-5 0-0 5, Cook 5-14 1-2 12, Neller 3-7 0-0 8, Plummer 0-5 1-2 1, Jones 0-2 0-0 0, Getz 1-6 1-1 3, Lane 0-0 0-0 0, Wertz 1-2 1-2 4, Wejnert 0-0 1-2 1, Wise 0-0 0-0 0, Satchdell 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 19-55 5-9 48.
Metcalf 2-5 2-4 6, Guerrier 1-1 0-0 2, Puk 0-2 0-2 0, Iati 4-9 4-4 15, Black 4-8 8-9 17, Williams 0-0 0-0 0, Evans 3-5 0-0 7, Devlin 0-1 0-0 0, Hooley 1-2 6-6 8, Rowley 4-8 0-0 8, Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Wiegmann 0-1 0-0 0, Page 1-2 0-0 0. Totals: 20-44 20-25 65.
Halftime: UAlbany, 30-24. Three-point goals: UMBC 5-19 (Morgan 1-3, Cook 1-6, Neller 2-6, Plummer 0-2, Jones 0-1, Wertz 1-1); UAlbany 5-16 (Iati 3-8, Black 1-4, Eans 1-1, Devlin 0-1, Hooley 0-1, Page 0-1). Rebounds: UMBC 28 (Roseboro 8), UAlbany 36 (Puk 7, Rowley 7). Assists: UMBC 6 (Roseboro 3), UAlbany 12 (Hooley 5). Personal fouls: UMBC 22, UAlbany 13. Fouled out: Plummer. Officials: Robert Patey, Clarence Armstrong, David Walker. Attendance: 1,821.