Great Danes Swiped by Hawks Out of Gate
ALBANY, NY — Despite snapping a 20-point deficit, the UAlbany Great Danes fell to the Hartford Hawks 64-72, losing their opening game of conference play Wednesday night at the SEFCU Arena.
Coming into the game the Danes were ranked 4th in the nation for mid-majors and were off to the best start in their Division I history. They also swept Hartford in all three games they squared off last season by an average margin of 20 points, but none of that mattered on Wednesday.
“I thought we were excited and I thought we were ready to play,” said UAlbany head coach Will Brown. “For 30 minutes that was not the team that I was accustomed to seeing.”
The Danes’ only lead in the game was when they took a 5-3 lead early on just over a minute into the contest off a Joe Cremo layup. From there the Hawks played with an intensity that could not be matched in the first half.
“We didn’t come out with any energy and we let them come out and do what they do best and that is shoot the three,” said Cremo.
The Hawks went 7-for-10 from behind the arc and shot over 60-percent from the field as a team in the first half. They were making cuts and getting open as if the Danes were playing an NBA team.
Hartford took a 41-31 lead into the break and Will Brown waited for one of his players to be vocal and wake the team up. No player filled that void.
“At halftime I told my guys I’m not going to yell, I’m not going to scream and I’m not going to get upset because I’m not sure anyone in this locker room is upset right now,” said Brown.
It was apparent when the second half started that nothing had sunk in and the Danes came out sluggish while the Hawks picked up where they had left off.
Hartford when on a 16-8 run and pushed their lead to 59-39 with 11:44 left in the game. That’s when Will Brown called a timeout and a fire was lit in the Great Danes’ belly.
When play resumed Joe Cremo hit a 3-pointer and sparked 12 straight points by UAlbany. They went on a 20-2 run overall to tie the game, which ignited the crowd and seemed as if they had won the game, but they came up just short in finishing the job.
With the game on the line forward Travis Charles fouled Hartford big man John Carroll in the act of shooting a three. Carroll made all three free throws and woke up his Hawk teammates.
“I’ll take the blame for that one. I should have done a better job. I’m smarter than that,” said Charles, who spent extra time on the bench due to foul trouble.
David Nichols and Joe Cremo led the charge for the Danes and combined for 43 points, 17 of which came on the 20-2 run that got the Danes back in the game. They almost completed one of the biggest comebacks in the nation, but fell just shy.
“There’s no excuse because we put ourselves in that position,” said Brown. “As much as we competed and fought to get back to a tie game. When you get to that tie game situation you need to finish.”
Last year the Danes lost their first three conference games of the season before righting the ship and making it to the America East Championship game. This year they have already started on the wrong foot, but this game might be a humbling experience to a team that looked as if they could have gone undefeated in the conference.
“Everyone said that Albany was the front runner. Look what happened tonight,” said Brown. “There is so little room for error in this league.”
Next up the UAlbany will travel on the road to New Hampshire and play a Wildcat team that has a 4-3 record at home. It will be a good test to see how the players and team respond.
Brown is optimistic that will happen, “You live, you learn and you get better from it.”