STONY BROOK — The University at Albany men’s basketball team survive a late surge from Stony Brook and advanced to the America East Championship after beating the Seawolves 63-56 Monday night on Long Island.
David Nichols led the Great Danes with 19 points, seven of which came within the last four minutes of the game as the sold-out crowd got behind the rolling Seawolves late in the second half.
Nichols slipped through the defense and hit a wide open 3-pointer with 38 seconds left in the first half, and then the Danes made a stop on the ensuing possession, got a rebound with about five seconds left on the clock, raced down the floor and Costa Anderson hit a long 3 as time expired.
As this transpired, UAlbany was on a 12-2 run to close out the half. They came out of the break with that same fire and went on a 7-0 run early in the set. They were up by 13 points with 16:42 left, and it seemed as if there was nothing that could stop the Danes — except one thing.
The Achilles heel of the Great Danes seems to be the full-court press. Stony Brook overcame a 21-point deficit with under six minutes to play last time UAlbany traveled to this building and forced 18 turnovers this time around. They ran the set in the second half and provided the lift they needed to get back into the game. At one point, Stony Brook forced four turnovers in a row and every time they forced a turnover the place got louder and louder. For the Danes, the pressure grew larger and larger.
The crowd was a major factor in the Danes’ mistakes. It was an environment reminiscent of a sold out Carrier Dome that had a lot of energy. Even before the tip the tone was set.
“I knew we’d make a run like we did,” said Stony Brook head coach Jeff Boals after the game. “Give them credit; they came in here in a tough environment and they were the better team today.”
The Danes threw a wrench in the Seawolves’ plans when they transitioned into their 1-3-1 defense. This was the set that granted Devonte Campbell a starting position and a major role on the team.
Campbell reeled off 16 points Monday, but more importantly he got to the line and made free throws when it mattered the most. Campbell went 8-for-11 from the charity stripe and provided an answer for an unsure UAlbany team.
“The first time we played Stony Brook, there was no Devonte Campbell,” said UAlbany head coach Will Brown. “The second time Devonte got into foul trouble.”
He did, however, get in foul trouble and was put on the bench when he picked up his fourth late in the game. Luckily for the Danes, it didn’t prove to be the difference.
UAlbany will travel to Burlington Saturday and take on Vermont for an 11 a.m. tip that will be featured on ESPN 2. The Catamounts are undefeated in conference play this season and are riding an 18-game win streak — best in the nation.
Last time the two teams squared off, the Danes lost 62-50 in Burlington. UAlbany had a second- half lead, but Vermont pulled away toward the end of the game. This left the Danes anxious for a re-match.
“We accept the challenge,” Joe Cremo said. “We are going to work hard the next few days and are looking forward to the opportunity.”
The Danes have won eight of their last 10 games, and want to prove to the rest of the league that they are not the same Danes that started conference play 0-3.
Nichols 6-23 5-6 19, Campbell 3-4 8-10 16, Cremo 4-8 4-4 13, Stire 3-5 1-1 7, Anderson 1-2 0-0 3, Charles 1-3 0-0 2, Rowley 0-0 2-2 2, Ennema 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 18-46 21-25 63.
Woodhouse 7-13 8-12 25, Yeboah 3-7 0-0 7, Nyama 1-5 4-5 6, Saintel 3-3 0-0 6, Iroegbu 1-6 3-4 5, Petras 2-2 1-2 5, Sturdivant 1-3 0-1 2, Sekunda 0-4 0-0 0, Mitchell 0-1 0-0 0, Campbell 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 18-45 16-24 56.
Halftime score: Albany 32-24. Three-point field goals: Albany 6-14 (Campbell 2-3, Nichols 2-7, Cremo 1-2, Anderson 1-2); Stony Brook 4-21 (Woodhouse 3-5, Yeboah 1-4, Nyama 0-4. Sekunda 0-4, Iroegbu 0-3, Mitchell 0-1). Rebounds: Albany 34 (Rowley, Campbell 7), Stony Brook 28 (Yeboah 9). Assists: Albany 8 (Campbell, Cremo 2), Stony Brook 8 (Nyama, Woodhouse 3). Total fouls: Albany 23, Stony Brook 24. Technical fouls: Stony Brook Team.