INJURED DANES FEND OFF FOXES
ALBANY N.Y. — The men’s basketball team beat the Marist Red Foxes 78-66 and got back on track snapping a two game skid in front of a crowd of 2,651 at the SEFCU Arena Wednesday.
It was the first time the two teams met on Albany’s home floor since they both moved up to Division I and the 12th time the teams met ever with Albany leading the series 10-2.
The Danes got off to a fast start and led 15-6 about midway through the half and didn’t look back never trailing at any point in the game.
Albany led by as many as 19 at one point, but the Red Foxes made it a game closing the gap to single digits with just a little under six minutes to play.
Joe Cremo led all scorers with 24 points, 20 of which came in the second half when his team needed him the most. Coming down the stretch Cremo scored eight points in a row and had 10 of his team’s 12 points in a four-minute span.
“Letting the game come to me and not forcing it,” said Cremo when asked about the difference between two halves. “In the game of basketball shots are going to fall sometimes. Sometimes they’re not. You just gotta keep playing through and these guys found me in some good spots tonight.”
Cremo had a good showing one game removed from his worst performance of the season where he only scored four points in a loss to Yale, but he didn’t just score the ball on Wednesday.
“Everybody wants to talk about his (Cremo) 24 points. I want to talk about seven assists and no turnovers,” said Albany Head Coach Will Brown after the game.
Cremo did have more than half of Albany’s 13 assists and helped his teammates find the basket.
Three other UAlbany players also recorded double figures in points and found success on the hardwood.
Dallas Ennema totaled 16 points while Mike Rowley and Marqueese Grayson both added 14. Grayson seems to be settling nicely into his role as a perimeter player for the Great Danes.
“He’s (Grayson) giving us a good lift and he’s starting to play really well,” said Cremo. “I’m proud of him because he puts the work in and I’m not really surprised when he does it so it’s good.”
“These guys encourage me every day,” said Grayson. “I feel like we’re only going to get better.”
The Danes need to get better before their conference play starts next month. Even though they won pretty handily they were exposed beyond the arc, something that seems to be a trend.
Marist hit 11 of the 28 three pointers that they attempted in the game. They saw what Yale and Holy Cross did to Albany and they wished they had taken more.
“We should have shot 38 (threes),” said Marist Head Coach Mike Marker. “If we don’t turn the ball over 19 times. I credit all to their defense.”
The Great Dane defense did make it tough for Marist to find any type of rhythm. Besides creating 19 turnovers they also held the Red Foxes to shooting only 36% in the first half as Marist scored a mere 21 points. The way Albany plays is they challenge you to shoot over their defense because they won’t let you get the ball inside.
The Red Foxes scored 24 points in the paint and couldn’t quite find a consistent pass inside. Time and time again they had to settle for low percentage jump shots that couldn’t find the basket.
On the flip side much of the Danes success came down low as they grinded out 42 points in the paint. They also grabbed 13 rebounds on the offensive end and scored 15 second chance points. All in all, it was a satisfying must win for a team that’s a little banged up.
Travis Charles is out another 10 days with a hairline fracture to his tibia. The redshirt Junior hurt himself at Yale going up for a rebound. He averages just under six points a game, but adds depth to a thin Great Dane front court.
On top of that Jaraan Lands isn’t expected to be back until the end of this month, Jamir Andrews is expected to miss another four weeks and Xavier Cochran had season ending surgery.
“We’ll have nine scholarship guys in uniform at least for the next 10 days,” said Brown.
The Marist win was an important victory for a Great Dane team that is still searching for their identity. They are finding success in certain areas and still need to improve in others.
They travel to Colgate to take on the 2-8 Raiders this Saturday. After that the Danes are staying in western N.Y. before traveling to Buffalo to take on the 4-5 Canisius Golden Griffins the following Monday. Their next home game is Saturday December 17th when they play host to the 2-7 St. Francis Terriors at 7 p.m.