Danes Out-Muscled By Cats
ALBANY N.Y. — The men’s basketball team suffered a 60-49 defeat at the hands of first-place Vermont Wednesday night at SEFCU Arena.
Vermont has won nine games in a row and looks poised to recapture the America East since they last won it in 2013.
“I thought this was a very physical game,” said University at Albany head coach Will Brown after the game. “Coming into the game my concerns were defense and rebounding.”
The Great Danes’ defense held up on their end, limiting the Catamounts to 16.7 percent from three, something that has been UAlbany’s achilles heel all season.
“If you told me before the game that we were going to hold them to only 60 points then I would have said that we win the game,” Brown said.
The only problem was Vermont’s defense–it gave Albany fits. The Catamounts played physically, forcing UAlbany to take a number of highly contested shots. As a result, UAlbany shot just under 30 percent from the floor on the evening.
Coming into Wednesday’s matchup Vermont had lost its last five meetings with UAlbany, which was clearly on the team’s mind as they tried to get that monkey off their back.
“It was just kind of a test to see where we’re at,” said Vermont head coach John Becker after the win.
Since taking over as Vermont’s head coach five seasons ago Becker has led his teams to at least 20-plus wins every year.
Becker’s team is off to its second-best start in school history, improving their record to 17-5 after the win Wednesday.
In the first half it seemed as if the Danes would be able to at least make it close for the entirety of the game. It was a back-and-forth contest as the two teams traded blows. UAlbany held the lead deep into the first half and trailed Vermont 31-25 at the break.
In the second half the Danes couldn’t catch a break or get a call and that six-point deficit they took to halftime got a lot bigger. With less than 10 minutes remaining in the game not a single Great Dane recorded double figures in points. It didn’t help that they only shot just under 30% from the field as a team.
They switched in and out of defenses and tried just about everything, but there was nothing they could do to stop the bleeding. They were simply outmatched.
The Danes closed the gap to nine with about six minutes to play, but they just didn’t have the stamina to keep up with a Catamount team that had fresh legs. Vermont dipped deep into their bench with 10 players on their roster seeing action on the court, which proved to be the difference in the game.
“They play 10 guys. There’s not a drop-off,” said Brown. “I thought their depth would only be an issue for us if we got into foul trouble.”
David Nichols picked up two fouls in the first half and stayed on the bench for longer than Brown wanted him to. Nichols finished well under his season average, scoring 12 points in a game where he shot 4 of 15 from the field.
The other leading scorer for the Danes, Joe Cremo, was limited to 13 points, which led all UAlbany scorers. The Great Danes’ offense produced its second lowest total on the season.
Perhaps out of frustration, a skirmish between Travis Charles and David Nichols on the court occurred after the game. Charles had to be restrained by teammates and removed from the court. The captains reportedly called a players-only meeting immediately after, leaving no players available to speak with the media.
“They wanted to meet so I’m not going to disrupt their meeting,” said Brown when asked why his players were not able to meet with the media. “This is a young team and an inexperienced team and they’re generally disappointed.”
UAlbany plays Vermont again on Feb. 22 when they travel north to face the Catamounts. The Danes have seven games to improve upon their mistakes before the rematch.
“We’ve got a lot of games before we go up to Burlington to play them, but as always you know me, I love the opportunity,” said Brown.
Before that all happens they have to travel to Hartford this Saturday and play the team that ended UAlbany’s season prematurely last year.