ALBANY -- Don't call it a comeback.
UAlbany actually led this game, but it was a fleeting 2-0 moment at the beginning, followed by a tidal wave of Vermont points that effectively put away the young Great Danes 80-51 in the America East opener for both schools at SEFCU Arena Saturday night.
Do call it a homecoming.
Colonie High graduate Isaiah Moll, a freshman forward for the Catamounts, made some shots in the second half and enjoyed 24 minutes of action in front of friends and family.
Vermont's Anthony Lamb, probably the best player in the AE, was in there for just six minutes of the first half, but did enough damage in that short span, scoring 10 points as the Catamounts went ahead 12-2 after trailing 2-0.
He left the game shortly thereafter, but head coach John Becker had no good reason to put him back in until the second half, as Vermont (11-4) continued the run until it was up 20-2 before UAlbany (5-11) scored again midway through the first half.
In particular, the Catamounts' perimeter defense served as a beartrap on the Great Danes' guards, putting the clamps on leading scorer Ahmad Clark for nine points, a misleading number considering he didn't score until there was just over nine minutes left in the game, and didn't get his basket until a few minutes later, when the Danes were down 63-33.
"Before I could blink, we were down 12-2," UAlbany head coach Will Brown said. "We were like a deer in the headlights.
"We had made great progress in the last couple of weeks, and I thought we were doing a great job of getting better. I have a great amount of respect for Vermont. I just thought that when we got down 12-2, our guys were A., shocked, and B., we hit the panic button a little bit. When they get into a flow, it's like running into a buzzsaw."
"Their three guards are really good," Vermont head coach John Becker said. "Clark came in averaging 19, and we held him to nine, which was a big key for us. We won the rebounding battle, which is always a big deal when you play Albany. And we kept them off the free throw line, where they've been really good this year."
The Catamounts outrebounded the Great Danes 39-26, and nine Vermont players had at least three rebounds, while four were in double-digit scoring, led by Lamb (16).
UAlbany got rebounds from just four players, led by the Danes' point guard, Clark, who had 10.
But Brown identified an area that the box score can't show as the main reason the experienced Cats demolished the young Great Danes.
"The physicality and the toughness, we lost big-time in that battle," he said. "They get in you, they're physical, they're tough, and we allowed that to bother us."
Starting forward Adam Lulka was borderline questionable to play for the Great Danes after hurting his right (shooting) wrist in practice Wednesday, but he was 7-for-15 for 15 points and eight rebounds in 36 minutes while wearing a heavy bandage wrapping his wrist and hand that he said took some getting used to.
He missed the first shot of the game, but Brent Hank put it back in for a 2-0 UAlbany lead.
That was it for their scoring for the next 10 minutes. Lamb scored 10 straight points to give Vermont a 12-2 lead, and that was pretty much it.
"Yeah, I felt like everyone was shocked [at that point," Clark said. "We've been down before, but tonight we just never responded the way we should.
"The big was staying with me until I gave the ball up, and then I just had to make the right play and the right read, and I just missed some shots that I usually can hit."
Vermont extended it to 20-2 and led 36-19 at halftime. Becker said he doesn't have any hard, fast rules about sitting players with two fouls in the first half, but everything was working so well without Lamb, anyway, that he decided to leave him on the bench for the rest of the half.
Moll played much of both halves, but didn't score until a little flurry midway through the second.
"It's funny, because we were driving back here, and it looks like home to me, but everyone else was looking around like it's just another campus, another city," he said with a chuckle. "It was different. I didn't really go to a lot of Albany games growing up, but it's the college that I live two minutes away from, so it was definitely a good feeling."
Lamb 4-6 6-6 16, Dingba 0-1 0-2 0, Smith 5-11 1-1 13, R. Duncan 3-5 1-2 7, Er. Duncan 5-7 0-0 13, Patella 2-3 0-0 5, Moll 2-10 0-1 5, Kpedi 3-3 0-1 6, Ev. Duncan 5-7 0-0 11, Shungu 1-3 0-0 2, Garrison 1-1 0-0 2, Lorenzo 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 31-57 8-13 80.
Hank 2-3 0-0 4, Lulka 7-15 1-1 15, Rizzuto 2-6 1-2 7, Clark 3-15 2-4 9, Healy 4-9 4-4 14, Miller 0-1 0-0 0, Campbell 1-4 0-0 2, Flory 0-1 0-0 0, French 0-0 0-0 0, Lauderdale 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 19-54 8-11 51.
Halftime: Vermont 36, UAlbany 19. 3-point goals: Vermont 10-26 (Lamb 2-4, Smith 2-6, R. Duncan 0-2, Er. Duncan 3-3, Patella, 1-2, Moll 1-6, Ev. Duncan 1-3); UAlbany 5-21 (Lulka 0-3, Rizzuto 2-4, Clark 1-5, Healy 2-7, Campbell 0-2). Rebounds: Vermont 39 (R. Duncan, Moll 5); UAlbany 26 (Clark 10). Assists: Vermont 17 (Er. Duncan 4); UAlbany 10 (Healy 5). Total fouls: Vermont 15; UAlbany 16. Attendance: 2,733.