Peter Hooley celebrated his 22nd birthday with a much-needed offensive outburst on a snowy Wednesday night.
The 6-foot-4 sophomore guard snapped out of a recent scoring slump by pouring in 21 points on 7-for-12 shooting from the floor and 6-for-10 from beyond the arc to lift the University at Albany to a 73-56 victory over UMass-Lowell at SEFCU Arena.
Hooley, the team’s leading scorer at 14.5 points per game, had produced only 26 points in his last three games on 8-for-30 shooting.
UAlbany (6-4 in the America East Conference and 12-11 overall) avenged a 70-66 overtime loss to the River Hawks on Jan. 15, and the Great Danes also bounced back from a 55-45 loss to Vermont in last Saturday’s Big Purple Growl.
“That was a great birthday,” said Hooley, who with fellow Australian teammate Sam Rowley made a snow fort during the day after UAlbany officials called off classes. Hooley also was served a pancake breakfast by Luke Devlin, another teammate from Australia.
“I had been going through a bit of a slump, but I felt very good during our shoot-around today,” said Hooley. “Then the first one goes down, and you feel good about yourself.”
“They are a much different team without Hooley,” said UMass-Lowell coach Pat Duquette. “He didn’t play against us in the first game. You can’t double-team their big guys when he’s in the lineup.”
UAlbany opened up a 39-13 cushion with 4:11 left in the first half, and went into the locker room with a healthy 46-22 cushion.
But the Great Danes went scoreless for the first 5:16 of the second half, and the River Hawks went on a pair of runs to get back into the game. After UAlbany moved ahead, 62-37, UMass-Lowell used an 11-0 spurt to slice its deficit to 62-48 with 5:21 to go, but that was as close as the River Hawks got.
UAlbany, which shot a torrid 73.9 percent from the floor in the first half, ended up shooting 50.9 percent for the game and held a 41-22 edge on the boards. The Great Danes were 8-for-17 from three-point range.
“We owed them something. We were pumped for the game because we lost to them the last time,” said Rowley.
“You are always worried when the kids get the day off and you don’t have much of a crowd because of the snow,” said UAlbany head coach Will Brown. “What kid doesn’t love playing in front of a big crowd? But we talked about creating our own energy. I thought we played great on both ends in the first half. We had a couple of lulls in the second half, but it’s hard to play with a 24-point lead.
“But I’m proud of the team, because we played with tremendous energy.”
Gary Johnson contributed 12 points, DJ Evans produced 10 points and five assists and Rowley finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.
UMass-Lowell, which, as a new league member, won’t be eligible for the America East Conference tournament, falls to 5-5 and 7-15. Akeem Williams and Antonio Bivins scored 17 points each for the River Hawks.
“I’m proud of the way we kept our composure in the second half,” said Duquette, whose older brother, Jim, is the former general manager of the New York Mets and former vice president of baseball operations for the Baltimore Orioles. His cousin, Dan, is the GM of the Baltimore Orioles and also served executive stints with the Boston Red Sox and Montreal Expos.
Junior forward Levan Shengelia, from the Republic of Georgia, has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules.
Livingston 0-3 0-0 0, Holley 3-7 7-8 14, Williams 6-15 2-3 17, Mlachnik 1-3 0-0 3, Weldon 1-4 0-2 2, Bivins 6-8 5-5 17, Cornelius 1-9 0-0 3, Messey 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 18-50 14-18 56.
S. Rowley 4-5 2-3 10, Johnson 5-8 2-4 12, Puk 2-8 1-2 5, Evans 2-8 1-2 5, Hooley 7-12 1-1 21, M. Rowley 0-2 2-2 2, Devlin 3-4 1-2 7, Wiegmann 0-0 0-0 0, Ennema 2-3 1-2 6. Totals: 27-53 11-17 73.
Halftime: UAlbany, 46-22. Three-point goals: UML 6-24 (Livingston 0-3, Holley 1-3, Williams 3-9, Mlachnik 1-3, Cornelius 1-6); UAlbany 8-17 (Johnson 0-1, Evans 1-5, Hooley 6-10, Ennema 1-1). Rebounds: UML 22 (Weldon 8), UAlbany 41 (Puk 9). Assists: UML 11 (Holley 5), UAlbany 17 (Evans 5). Total fouls: UML 17, UAlbany 16. Fouled out: Bivins. Technical fouls: UAlbany (Brown). Attendance: 1,435.