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Danes Surrender Title

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BURLINGTON, V.T. — The UAlbany men’s basketball team held Vermont to their fourth lowest total of the season, but fell short 62-50 as the Catamounts captured the America East regular season title for a 7th time in school history.

“They don’t beat themselves,” said UAlbany Sophomore guard Joe Cremo. “We have to be rock solid for 40 minutes and we weren’t that. We played 30 good minutes of basketball.”

That they did. The Danes controlled the tempo for most of the game and it didn’t unravel until late in the second half.

“I thought it came down to an eight-minute game. And I thought the more experienced team, deeper team and the more veteran team won,” said Albany head coach Will Brown after the game.

With just over eight minutes to play in the second half Albany trailed by three and for the most part went toe to toe with a Vermont team that has now won 17 games in a row. From there the Catamounts pulled away and proved to be too much for the Danes.

David Nichols lead Albany with 18 points and knocked down four threes in the first five minutes in the second half to give the Danes a seven-point lead. This all but silenced the sellout crowd of 3,266 at Patrick Gymnasium that came to see a Catamount team secure their first America East regular season title since 2014.

That was as close as Albany would come to a victory. That was about the time Vermont went on a 9-2 run that swung the momentum in their favor.

The environment made it tough on the Danes to hear each other on the court and led to a lot of mistakes and missed assignments. The Danes had 14 turnovers, 10 more than their counterparts, which lead to the Catamounts capitalizing and scoring 20 points off Albany mistakes.

On the defensive end the Danes played mostly a clean game, but gave up 14 offensive rebounds to the Catamounts. This was due in part to the 1-3-1 zone defense they had implemented. In the first half it was effective holding Vermont shooting under 40-percent, but just like the first time the two teams met the Albany couldn’t match Vermont’s depth and grew tired.

“This Vermont team’s starting five is good, but their next five is good,” said Brown

The Catamounts had three different players score in double figures, including Peyton Henson who had 18.

It also didn’t help that Albany only got to the charity stripe one time in the game. They made one free-throw and didn’t get too many calls.

“I thought we drove to the hoop it’s just…,” said Brown without actually saying what he meant.

With the combination of the hostile environment and the calls not going their way, the Danes were bound to lose in Burlington on Wednesday night.

The Danes can’t be left feeling sorry for themselves otherwise they’ll be preparing for the offseason instead of a postseason game.

They want another shot at Vermont and they all believe that they have the ability to beat them in the America East tournament. The only problem is if they played each other again it would be back on the same court that the Danes lost tonight.

“Obviously I want another crack at them,” said Brown.

“This game is behind us now. I know we’re a confident team and have one more opportunity and finish up the regular season,” said Cremo. “We’d love to see them again, but it’s a long ways from now.”

The Danes finish up their regular season this Saturday when they host the 4-12 Hartford Hawks, a team Albany beat 74-61 earlier this year. After that the America East conference play begins and they have at least one home quarterfinal  on Wednesday March 1st. Then panning on how everything shapes out they have a longshot at hosting a semifinal on the following Monday.

Right now Albany is in a three way tie with UMBC and UNH for third place in the America East with one game remaing.

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John C. Longton III is the sports editor of the Albany Student Press. He previously served as sports editor for Hudson Valley Community College's student newspaper, the Hudsonian. Longton also works for Townsquare Media, the Albany Patroons, and runs his own podcast weekly, Rated R Sports.

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