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UAlbany men's basketball loses opener to Lehigh

UAlbany men's basketball loses opener to Lehigh

Great Danes trailed by as many as 17 points in the second half before waking up late in the contest
UAlbany men's basketball loses opener to Lehigh
UAlbany lost 74-70.
Photographer: Peter R. Barber

​ALBANY — The final score was close enough.

UAlbany men’s basketball head coach Will Brown saw right through that.

“It was a bad night,” Brown said.

The Great Danes only lost 74-70 in their season-opening game against Lehigh, but UAlbany was sluggish for much of Saturday’s contest at SEFCU Arena. UAlbany trailed by as many as 17 points in the second half before waking up late in the contest to get itself within striking range of Lehigh in the final minutes.

“Very surprised by our play,” Brown said. “This was not the team that I’ve seen the last two weeks on the court.”

“I think, definitely, ‘disappointed’ is a good word to use,” UAlbany redshirt sophomore Adam Lulka said.

Defensively, UAlbany offered little resistance for long stretches of the game, which saw Lehigh shoot 50.8% from the field. Meanwhile, UAlbany shot 32.8% from the field and took half of its 58 field-goal attempts from 3-point territory.

“Disappointed with us, overall,” Brown said. “We did a lot of things out of character. A lot of self-inflicted [mistakes] that surprised me, to be honest with you.”

Brown had kept his starting lineup mostly a mystery heading into Saturday’s game, and the Great Danes ended up starting sophomores Malachi de Sousa, Cameron Healy and Lulka, and seniors Ahmad Clark and Romani Hansen. That meant sophomore Antonio Rizzuto came off the bench, but the guard still played 30 minutes and offered a dozen points.

Healy led all scorers with 21 points on 5 of 12 shooting, while Clark added 11 points, seven rebounds and four assists. UAlbany, though was outscored by a team-worst 10 points during Clark’s 30 minutes. Only Healy and Lulka posted a positive plus/minus from UAlbany’s top-six players in terms of minutes played. 

“You look at the plus/minus, it’s pretty glaring right there,” Brown said. “There’s a couple of guys there that can’t be where they’re at, as far as minuses are concerned.”

For Lehigh, senior Jordan Cohen had 17 points and junior James Karnik added 15 points.

UAlbany trailed 37-27 after a first half that looked a lot like what it was: UAlbany’s first half of the season.

The Great Danes shot 32.3% from the field in the opening 20 minutes and had nine turnovers. Healy had a dozen points in the first half to lead UAlbany, which used nine players in the opening period.

For much of the second half, UAlbany’s offense continued to struggle. The Great Danes, though, found some energy to make it interesting late. In the final 7:17, UAlbany (0-1) outscored Lehigh (1-1) 24-12, and the Great Danes got within three points with 12 seconds to go before coming up short.

“That focus,” Healy said, “has to be there for 40 minutes.”

On opening night, it wasn’t. UAlbany next plays Wednesday vs. Canisius, and Brown said the Great Danes know they need to be better that night.

“You learn an awful lot about your team this month,” Brown said.

LEHIGH

J. Wilson 5-9 0-0 10, Karnik 7-11 1-2 15, Taylor 1-7 1-2 3, Cohen 6-8 4-4 17, Fenton 3-10 0-0 8, M. Wilson 3-4 2-5 8, Betlow 2-5 0-0 5, Porter 1-1 0-0 2, Alamudun 2-4 2-2 6. Totals: 30-59 10-15 74.

UALBANY

Lulka 3-7 0-3 6, de Sousa 2-7 0-0 6, Hansen 1-8 4-6 6, Clark 4-12 2-3 11, Healy 5-12 8-8 21, Rizzuto 3-7 4-5 12, Lauderdale 1-1 0-0 2, Doherty 0-1 0-0 0, Hutcheson 0-3 6-6 6. Totals: 19-58 24-31 70.

Halftime score: Lehigh 37, UAlbany 27. Three-point shooting: Lehigh 4-16 (J. Wilson 0-2, Taylor 0-3, Cohen 1-2, Fenton 2-5, Betlow 1-3, Alamudun 0-1), UAlbany 8-29 (de Sousa 2-4, Hansen 0-2, Clark 1-8, Healy 3-8, Rizzuto 2-6, Hutcheson 0-1). Rebounds: Lehigh 29 (M. Wilson 7), UAlbany 32 (Clark 7). Assists: Lehigh 17 (M. Wilson 4), UAlbany 11 (Clark 4). Turnovers: Lehigh 15, UAlbany 16. Total fouls: Lehigh 24, UAlbany 17. Technical fouls: Karnik. Fouled out: Taylor. Attendance: 2,039.

Reach Michael Kelly at [email protected] or @ByMichaelKelly on Twitter.​​

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