ALBANY — With home wins against two teams it had already defeated on the road this season, the UAlbany men’s basketball could have ended the week in a tie for second place with Stony Brook, and with the Seawolves slated to head to SEFCU Arena next weekend.
But the Great Danes lost 69-50 Thursday to UMBC, then fell 68-56 Saturday to New Hampshire.
So, instead, head coach Will Brown’s Great Danes find themselves tied for fourth place with UMBC, and as close to seventh place as they are to second with three games left in the regular season.
“I just think right now is the worst time to feel sorry for yourself,” Brown said, “because then you’re just going to get another kick in the rear end on Wednesday.”
That’s when UAlbany heads to seventh-place UMass Lowell, a game in which the Great Danes need to find a way to get their offense on track. After making 16 of 52 shots against UMBC, UAlbany made 17 of 56 shots against New Hampshire in a game that saw the Great Danes trail by at least a three-possession margin for the final 12:30.
“We just need to stick together as a team,” UAlbany senior Ahmad Clark said. “Figure out what the problem is. We’re not making enough shots right now, and [not] playing hard enough, I think, personally. We’ve just got to stay together.”
UAlbany’s offensive woes, though, are becoming a major issue for the squad as it heads for its final regular-season games. The Great Danes haven’t scored better than a point per possession in any of their last five games and have made fewer than 40% of their field-goal attempts in six of their last eight games.
Things got so rough Saturday night that redshirt sophomore Cameron Healy missed all six of his 3-point attempts, snapping a streak of 58 games for the guard in which he made at least one 3. That streak consisted of every game Healy had played in his college career, and had been the second-longest active streak in the country.
“I think all that time out has hurt Healy,” Brown said of the guard, who missed more than a week of activity with a back/hip injury, and has made 6 of 30 overall shots and 3 of 21 from 3-point range in his three games since that point. “He’s struggled the last three games shooting the ball.”
Healy, though, is hardly the only Great Dane struggling to shoot the basketball at the moment. The team has suffered through a variety of offensive lulls in recent games, and had a poorly timed one after a 7-0 run had UAlbany (7-6, 14-14) within 39-36 of New Hampshire (6-7, 13-13) with nearly 14 minutes to play. UAlbany didn’t score on its next four possessions to start a stretch of 5:41 in which it scored two points as New Hampshire built its lead to 10 points.
UAlbany never challenged head coach Bill Herrion’s squad from there.
“A great win for our team,” Herrion said.
Clark had a game-high 24 points for UAlbany. He only made 5 of 17 shots from the field, but connected on 13 of 18 free throws on a night that saw New Hampshire’s defense constantly switch on ball screens and handoffs to try to thwart the Great Danes’ perimeter threats.
“We just tried to stay as connected to everybody as we could, and just contest 3s,” Herrion said. “Our guys did a great job.”
UAlbany made 3 of 21 shots from 3-point territory. At the start of the night, Brown looked for an offensive spark from junior Sasha French, who started at center instead of redshirt sophomore Brent Hank after only playing 43 minutes in the season’s first 27 games.
“We’re just not getting a lot from that spot,” Brown said.
French had six points on 3 of 8 shooting in 18 minutes, but Brown said there is a “strong possibility” UAlbany starts senior Romani Hansen — who had 11 points and seven rebounds Saturday in 26 minutes — at center moving forward.
For New Hampshire, junior Sean Sutherlin had 18 points and 10 rebounds, while senior Mark Carbone and sophomore Marque Maultsby each had 11 points.
UAlbany had alternated wins and losses for the 10 games prior to Saturday’s defeat. The team’s immediate goal becomes to avoid its second three-game losing streak of the season.
“We’ve got to move on and try to right this ship Wednesday at [UMass] Lowell,” Brown said.
Guadarrama 3-9 2-2 9, Lester 2-7 0-0 4, Maultsby 3-10 5-5 11, Sutherlin 8-14 0-0 18, Hopkins 3-8 0-0 8, Carbone 4-5 0-0 11, Martinez 3-7 0-1 7. Totals: 26-60 7-8 56.
French 3-8 0-0 6, de Sousa 0-2 0-0 0, Hutcheson 1-5 1-2 4, Clark 5-17 13-18 24, Healy 3-12 2-2 8, Rizzuto 1-6 0-0 3, Lulka 0-0 0-0 0, Hansen 4-6 3-5 11, Shafer 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-56 19-27 56.
Halftime score: New Hampshire 35, UAlbany 26. Three-point shooting: New Hampshire 9-20 (Guadarrama 1-3, Lester 0-2, Maultsby 0-2, Sutherlin 2-3, Hopkins 2-4, Carbone 3-4, Martinez 1-2), UAlbany 3-21 (de Sousa 0-1, Hutcheson 1-5, Clark 1-4, Healy 0-6, Rizzuto 1-4, Hansen 0-1). Rebounds: New Hampshire 36 (Sutherlin 10), UAlbany 31 (Hansen 7). Assists: New Hampshire 12 (Maultsby 4), UAlbany 5 (Clark 2). Turnovers: New Hampshire 13, UAlbany 8. Total fouls: New Hampshire 20, UAlbany 15. Fouled out: Hutcheson, Rizzuto. Attendance: 1,925.