MBB beats Hartford, gets closer to top seed
By Andy Doorty
Feb. 24, 2015
Just three days after losing at home to Stony Brook, the University at Albany men’s basketball team avenged the loss by beating Hartford 70-64 on Friday night at SEFCU Arena.
The first half was a struggle for the Great Danes (19-8, 13-1 in America East), who shot 36 percent from the field, as Hartford (13-14, 6-8 in America East) held a seven point lead just under 10 minutes in the first half.
UAlbany was able to shrink the deficit by getting Sam Rowley and Ray Sanders to the foul line and hitting four of their final nine shots to end the first half tied at 25.
Hartford shot 52 percent from the field in the first half and half of their made shots came from behind the three-point line.
In the second half, UAlbany took the lead and never let go of it. This was an improvement from the first half, which included seven lead changes between the Great Danes and the Hawks.
With 2:33 to play the Hawks were able to cut the lead to four on a 3-pointer by Justin Graham. The Great Danes answered with a three-point play by Sam Rowley, and made 6 of 8 free throws to hold off the Hawks.
UAlbany guard Ray Sanders scored a career-high 19 points, 15 of those 19 coming in the second half. He also made 11 of 12 foul shots, nine coming in the second half.
“I tried defensively to get steals, and in transition it led to easy baskets,” Sanders said. “I take a lot of pride in my defense, I hate getting scored on. Any chance I get to stop a guy from scoring, I take pride in it.”
Evan Singletary had 14 points, hitting 5 of 6 free throws, and Sam Rowley scored 11 points and added nine rebounds, one rebound shy of a second straight double-double.
For the Hawks, Mike Nwakamma led in scoring with 17 points, Justin Graham had 15, nine from 3-pointers, and Corban Wroe had 14.
With one UAlbany win or one Vermont loss in the teams final two games, UAlbany would officially clinch the number one seed in the America East conference tournament. This means that throughout the tournament the Great Danes would have the home court advantage, as long as they keep winning.
“We are aware of it,” Sam Rowley said of the top seed. “As a team we use that as a little bit more of motivation. We go into every game the team to beat, so it doesn’t change our mindset.”
“Conference games late in the year, anything can happen,” UAlbany coach Will Brown said. “You don’t bring it, you’re going to get beat. When you have a target on your back, you better play with great energy, enthusiasm, and focus. Otherwise you’re going to get beat.”
Before the game, UAlbany honored 11-year-old JP Honsinger, who is diagnosed with Niemann-Pick Type C disease, also known as childhood Alzheimer’s. Honsinger signed a National Letter of Intent prior to this UAlbany season. Fans were given purple t-shirts honoring Honsigner as they entered the game.
In their final two games, the Great Danes will head to UMBC on Wednesday for their final road game of the regular season before coming home for a showdown with Vermont on Saturday, Feb. 28 at 2 p.m.