Home»UAlbany Sports»John Puk’s Last-Second Free Throw Sinks UMBC 73-72 to Advance UAlbany to 2-0 in League Play

John Puk’s Last-Second Free Throw Sinks UMBC 73-72 to Advance UAlbany to 2-0 in League Play

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John Puk’s Last-Second Free Throw Sinks UMBC 73-72 to Advance UAlbany to 2-0 in League Play



ALBANY, N.Y. – Senior center John Puk made one of two free throws with 0.4 seconds remaining in the second overtime to give UAlbany (8-7, 2-0 AE) a 73-72 win over UMBC (4-11, 0-2 AE) on Wednesday night at SEFCU Arena.

“My teammates had confidence that I could knock down the free throws, I had confidence in myself, and coach had confidence in me,” said Puk. “I was just glad I was able to knock it down and secure the win.”

In the double-overtime contest, the lead changed 16 times and the score was tied 15 times. Peter Hooley scored a career-high 27 points to follow up his then career high performance with 25 points against Hartford on Saturday. Sam Rowley had his third double-double of the season with 20 points and 12 rebounds. The junior forward also had five offensive boards and five steals.

The Great Danes got off to a slow start in the first half. After making a Division I program-record 16 threes last game against Hartford, UAlbany started 0-for-4 from three-point land to open the game. UMBC also got out to a slow shooting start, going 1-for-6 to start the half.

Despite UMBC’s poor shooting start, the Retrievers used a 9-0 run to take their first lead with 12 minutes left in the first half. After starting 1-for-6 from the field, UMBC went 9-for-16 mid-way through the first half.

The Purple & Gold responded to the Retrievers run with good defense. DJ Evans made a steal at half court and went the other way for the lay-in with 10 minutes left in the first half. The senior point guard kept the game within five.

Sam Rowley converted on an and-one opportunity with 2:29 left in the half to give UAlbany its first lead since the 13:43 mark. Levan Shengelia had a steal of his own on the inbounds by the Retrievers and found Rowley under the basket to give the Great Danes a 27-24 lead. The Purple & Gold led 27-26 at the break.

Hooley made a three to open the period, but five UAlbany turnovers in the first 3:30 of the second half put UMBC up three, 35-32.

The Great Danes battled back, but UMBC always had a response at the other end of the floor. Hooley scored five-straight points with 12 minutes left to give UAlbany a two-point lead, but UMBC hit a three on the ensuing possession. In the final five minutes of regulation, UAlbany never led, but managed to get the score back to a tie.

No basket was bigger to tie up the game than a Hooley 3-pointer with 11 seconds left in regulation. After scoring just five points in the first half, Hooley exploded for 22 in the second and eight in the last four minutes of regulation.

“It’s good to know that we can execute down the stretch,” said Hooley. “It wasn’t a pretty game to watch, and everyone was pretty emotional. To get a good win in conference is all that matters.”

With the teams tied at 61, the contest entered its first overtime period. Rowley made the only field goal of either overtime period for UAlbany with 30 seconds left in the first OT. The Purple & Gold went 6-for-6 from the free throw line in the first overtime. With the score tied at 69, UAlbany and UMBC tipped-off for a second overtime.

Gary Johnson made three of four free throws and grabbed two offensive boards to give the Great Danes a 72-69 lead with 3:23 left. After a UMBC basket, the Retrievers failed to convert on an and-one, narrowing the UAlbany lead to one point, 72-71. UMBC couldn’t find the put-back after three offensive boards.

UMBC’s Elliott made one free throw on the next possession to tie the game. On a missed three-pointer by the Retrievers, Puk was fouled on the rebound and headed to the line. The senior made one-of-two from the line to give UAlbany the win.

The Purple & Gold went 10-for-12 (.833) in the overtime periods from the free throw line and 23-for-27 (.852) overall. The Retrievers went 10-for-13 from the charity stripe.

Head Coach Will Brown picked up his first double-overtime win at the helm of the Great Danes. The last time Brown saw double-overtime action in league play at home was against Stony Brook on Feb. 18, 2004.

“I think UMBC has good talent, I” said Brown. “We’re going to get every team’s best shot. I thought we played like we were going to win regardless, and it’s always better to learn from a win than a loss.”

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