MBB knocks off Maine to open playoffs
By Seth Finkelstein
March 5, 2015
Despite star player Sam Rowley converting only two field goals, the University at Albany men’s basketball team rolled through the University of Maine Wednesday night by a score of 83-68 in the opening round of the America East Conference Tournament at SEFCU Arena.
UAlbany was led by the superb guard duo of Evan Singletary and Ray Sanders. Singletary scored a team high 19 points while Sanders was second on the team in scoring with 15 points. This was the first UAlbany postseason game for both of them, but it did not seem like they were fazed by the moment one bit.
“It was fun,” Ray Sanders said afterward. “We had a pretty large margin of winning, so I mean it’s good to go into the tournament on a high note like that.”
Maine’s first half seemed as if it was a 3-point contest. The Black Bears shot 15 3-pointers, but only made three.
“We settled too much and that was part of Albany just being tougher than us,” Maine coach Bob Walsh said. “We took 28 shots in the first half 15 of them were threes. That’s too many. I didn’t want to take that many threes. I mean 15 threes in 28 shots is not really going to be very efficient for us.”
Surprisingly, Sam Rowley did not attempt one field goal in the first half, but he did connect on all four of his foul shots. Peter Hooley had four points, making only 1 of 3 field goal attempts from the field and adding two foul shots.
“I think we’ve shown all year that we have so many guys who can contribute. They really crowded Sam, they made it tough for Sam,” Hooley said. “They put all their attention on him, he caught the ball on the three-point line and he pretty much had three guys around him. He was unselfish, he managed to get everybody else into the game.”
UAlbany played a nearly flawless first half, as they led 46-25. They were lights out from the field shooting 60 percent, 54 percent from 3-point land and 90 percent from the foul line. They outrebounded Maine 21-8 in the first half. The only flaw was that UAlbany turned the ball over 10 times.
“I think if we didn’t turn the ball over 10 times in the first half we probably would’ve had a bigger lead,” UAlbany coach Will Brown said. “So that was the only thing that was really disappointing with us in the first half.”
At halftime, Brown needed to keep UAlbany’s temp up. “Coach came in and told us that we got to keep the gas pedal on because we usually let up in the second half. I think we get a little bit relaxed, but I feel that we came out tonight in the second half with a sense of urgency trying to put the game away, never letting them get comfortable and trying to get back in this game,” Sanders said.
UAlbany did feel that urgency in the second half and pushed the lead to 24 within the first five minutes. The closest Maine got all half was when they hit two 3-pointers in a row, to cut the lead to 15.
“They [Maine] never went away, they stayed with us. They were all confident. They all had the green light, they can shoot whenever they wanted. We managed to weather a few storms of theirs and keep focused to make sure we finished it out right,” Hooley said.
Albany scored a season high 83 points tonight and it looks like UAlbany is playing their best basketball all season.
“It’s a tournament, one loss we gone. We don’t have a choice but to play our best basketball at this point,” Singletary said.
UAlbany also demolished the Black Bears in the rebounding margin, 40-19.
“We wanted to attack the glass. We have a size advantage, that always helps as well, but you have to be relentless, you have to go to the glass,” coach Brown said. “We have to rebound the ball and sometimes I think we don’t block out like we should. I think we reach for the ball. We’ve gotta hit before we get hit.”
UAlbany will play Sunday at 2 p.m. in the America East tournament semifinals at SEFCU Arena against the New Hampshire Wildcats. This game should be a close one as both meetings this season have been decided by a total of three points, both in UAlbany’s favor. One thing is certain and that is UAlbany will enjoy their rest.
“I think its beneficial in terms of how much rest you can have, you can rest your legs and get ready to go. It gives you more time to prepare for the team coming in,” Hooley said.