ALBANY — Move forward.
That was the message University at Albany men’s basketball head coach Will Brown delivered to his youthful group after last weekend’s blowout loss to Vermont, and it was what he preached after a disappointing 66-62 loss Saturday at SEFCU Arena against Maine.
“We’ve just got to keep plugging away and keep working,” Brown said. “If anybody’s going to get us, you better get us right now because . . . we’re going to be good. I think our future’s really bright, but we’ve got to understand right now that we need more of a sense of urgency. Got to stop the bleeding. Got to really start helping ourselves more than what we are, and sustain our effort, our focus and our execution for longer periods.”
For most of UAlbany’s latest America East Conference loss, though, the Great Danes had few opportunities to sustain positive play. While UAlbany only lost by four points, that margin was more the product of Maine — which had won only two games prior to topping the Great Danes — struggling down the stretch. UAlbany ended the game on a 21-11 run in the final 6:11 after trailing by as many as 16 points in the second half.
“I think some of it was a little bit nerves,” Maine head coach Richard Barron said of his team’s late-game struggles that included a stretch of less than a minute in which it committed four turnovers. “I think a lot of it was a credit to Albany. When you’re in that situation, you have nothing to lose. Reckless abandon, right? So you just do some things. The game changes a little bit, right? For us, we were maybe not as smart as we should have been. We had some timeouts we could have burned.”
Meanwhile, Brown said he needed more timeouts than the NCAA allows.
“This team right now, I need 10 timeouts a game,” Brown said. “Unfortunately, I don’t get that many.”
UAlbany (0-2 America East, 5-12 overall) trailed Maine (1-2, 3-15) 38-28 at halftime. Maine’s matchup zone gave UAlbany constant problems in the first half, in which the Great Danes took 18 3-pointers and made seven.
“Their zone got us on our heels early on,” Brown said. “They had not played much zone of late, and I thought they did a good job with the zone early. We didn’t attack the interior of it. We tried to go around it.”
“I don’t think we were aggressive enough,” UAlbany redshirt freshman Cameron Healy said.
Healy had 15 points for UAlbany, while junior Ahmad Clark scored 22. No other UAlbany starter, though, scored more than four points in a game in which UAlbany shot 20 of 49 from the field, 11 of 30 from 3 and 11 of 20 from the foul line.
“Say what you want about defense and all that,” Brown said, “we didn’t score enough points.”
Meanwhile, Maine made 12 of 28 3s and received a game-high 26 points from junior Sergio El Darwich.
At 0-2 in league play and with its next two games on the road, Clark said the situation for UAlbany is a straightforward one when it heads Wednesday to UMass Lowell.
“We just got to get a win,” Clark said. “Plain and simple. Work harder in practice. Play harder in games.”
“We’ve got to continue to get better,” Brown said. “We’re going to do something every night that no other team [in the America East] is going to do, and for whatever the reasoning is, we’re going to put four freshmen in the starting lineup that are going to eat up a lot of minutes, alright, and some days they’re really good, some days some of them are good, and some days they all struggle. That’s life. I think it’s us and Duke [that are] the only two teams in the country that start four freshmen and I think Duke’s four freshmen are probably just a tad bit more advanced than our four freshmen and a little more experienced.”
The immediate solution?
“We’ve got to go to work. We’ve got to get better,” Brown said. “We feel sorry for ourselves, we’re going to get beat again on Wednesday.”
Fleming 4-9 2-2 12, Larsson 4-5 0-0 11, Eze 1-5 0-0 2, Moss 0-6 2-2 2, El Darwich 9-13 3-4 26, Araujo 0-0 0-1 0, Antoms 0-0 0-0 0, White 4-13 3-4 13. Totals: 22-51 10-13 66.
Hank 1-1 1-6 3, Lulka 2-5 0-0 4, Rizzuto 0-3 0-0 0, Clark 7-12 5-6 22, Healy 5-13 0-0 15, de Sousa 0-2 1-2 1, Miller 2-5 0-0 6, Campbell 3-6 2-4 9, Flory 0-1 0-0 0, Lauderdale 0-1 2-2 2. Totals: 20-49 11-20 62.
Halftime score: Maine 38, UAlbany 28. Three-point shooting: Maine 12-28, UAlbany 11-30. Rebounds: Maine 30 (El Darwich 8), UAlbany 33 (Clark, Lauderdale 5). Assists: Maine 17 (Fleming 7), UAlbany 13 (Clark 4).
Turnovers: Maine 12, UAlbany 14. Total fouls: Maine 16, UAlbany 15. Attendance: 1,793.