Grab a partner and dance, Danes down Vermont to advance to NCAA tournament
-From Wire Reports
Playing in a hostile environment at the University of Vermont’s Patrick Gym, the fourth seeded University at Albany men’s basketball team edged the second seeded Vermont Catamounts 53-49 to advance to the NCAA tournament and capture the America East title.
Senior guard Mike Black led the way for the Danes with 14 points, while the Great Dane bench pitched in with 27 of the teams 53 points, including 12 points on 6-for-6 shooting from junior forward Luke Devlin. Freshman guard Peter Hooley also made his presence felt with eight points, four assists, four steals and two rebounds off the bench.
Vermont threw the first punch, opening the game on a 10-0 run led by Trey Blue who knocked in five points for the Catamounts. Black broke the drought for the Danes with his first bucket at the 16:57 mark, and it was all UAlbany after that. The Danes went on a 21-6 run, helping them take an eight point advantage into halftime.
Vermont responded to the Albany run, opening the second half on a 6-0 run to cut the lead to two, but the Danes would weather the storm once again and counter with a 10-5 run of their own, capped off by a Blake Metcalf slam to extend the lead to 38-33 with 9:28 to go.
The advantage would be short lived however, as Vermont once again fought back, this time grabbing their first lead since the early minutes of the first half; grabbing a 45-43 lead on an 8-2 run lead by Sandro Carissimo.
Despite the push by the Catamounts, the Danes would not give as Jacob Iati, who had been in foul trouble and had been a non-factor for much of the game, canned back to back three’s to put UAlbany back in front 49-45 with 1:10 left to go.
Vermont made a last ditch effort on their home court, with Trey Blue streaking to the basket for a lay in to cut the lead to 51-49. But that would be all she wrote for the Catamounts, as junior center John Puk sealed the deal with two clutch free throws to send the Danes dancing for the first time since 2007.
This season’s 24 wins are the most in a single season for UAlbany, who now wait to find out their next opponent during ESPN’s Selection Show on Sunday, March 17.