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Danes Prove to Have More Than Just Growl

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ALBANY, N.Y. — The University at Albany Men’s basketball team won their second straight America East conference game 83-74 over the University of New Hampshire 83-74 on Friday night, thanks to a career high 31 points from Joe Cremo.

In front of a crowd of 3,831 at the SEFCU arena on Purple Growl night, the Great Danes finally broke away from UNH late in the second half and avenged a three point loss earlier in the season in New Hampshire.

Joe Cremo lead the balanced attack with 31 points as the Great Danes had four starters in double digits. David Nichols had 18 points, Travis Charles had 14 and Greg Stire added 10. Devonte Campbell also pitched in eight points to go along with seven rebounds.

Iba Camera lead UNH with 20 points and 10 rebounds on 10-of-12 shooting. UNH’s leading scorer Tanner Leissner, who averages 18.9 ppg, was held to 15 points on 5-of-14 shooting. Josh Hopkins added 11 points off of the bench for UNH, who shot 6-for-25 from three.

“It was a good win against a team that has been playing well in league play, that’s got a talented veteran front court,” UAlbany coach Will Brown said. “It was a good win for us, a good crowd, and good energy in the building.”

The win improved UAlbany’s record to 18-7 overall and 6-4 in the league. Meanwhile UNH dropped to 9-15 overall and 5-5 in America East play.

Devonte Campbell opened up scoring for the Great Danes to start the night, and Cremo added 3 on the team’s second possession to get the home crowd on their feet. On the next time down Greg Stire put a UNH defender in the spin cycle and was left wide open for a two handed slam to give the Great Danes an early 7-2 lead and put the Purple Growl crowd into an early frenzy.

The Great Danes controlled much of the first ten minutes of the game, pushing the lead out to 19-9 after an Alex Foster layup and then pushing the lead out to 23-11 after a Greg Stire layup with 10:48 left in the first half. The forced a UNH timeout and the Purple Growl was in full swing at the SEFCU Arena.

This would be UAlbany’s largest lead as UNH cut the deficit to one after going on a 7-0 run late in the first half as Jordan Reed scored five straight points for UNH as they closed the gap to 29-28.

After a UAlbany timeout, Cremo made two free throws and then hit a three on the next possession to put the Great Danes up 34-28. The Great Danes would take a 35-30 lead into the half. Cremo had 11 going into halftime.

UNH opened up the second half on a 13-7 run to get their first lead of the game, 43-42, just a little over five minutes into the second half. The UAlbany crowd was silenced for the first time all night as the Great Danes struggled the get the offense going. The fans then started to take their frustration out on the refs as boos began to rain down after some controversial calls went against UAlbany.  

The questionable calls eventually lead to UAlbany’s coach Will Brown drawing a technical foul eight minutes into the second half.

“If you noticed our guys are pretty good about not saying ‘boo’ to the officials for the most part,” Coach Brown said. “So I just told the team ‘I got your back, you guys don’t say a word’ I apologized to the team, I just said ‘I’m not gonna let anyone rough you up.’”

With the game tied 54-54 with 9:35 left in the game, the Great Danes began to take over. After a pair of threes by Nichols and 10 points by Cremo, the Great Danes went on a 20-10 run to go ahead 74-64 and never look back. Going on to win by the score of 83-74.

“I started off the second half a little slow, but these guys kept telling me to be aggressive and David [Nichols] and Travis [Charles] and those guys kept setting me up in good spots tonight, so without them those points don’t come.” Cremo said, who scored 20 points in the second half, eight of them off free throws, as he went 11-14 from the free throw line.

Up next the Great Danes will take on league leading Vermont at the SEFCU on Thursday at 7 p.m. as they look to avenge an earlier season loss against the defending America East champs.

Elijah Casper is a sports reporter for the Albany Student Press and co-anchor on ATV 360.

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