MBB survives UNH scare to extend winning streak
By Andrew Hughes
Feb. 5, 2015
The University at Albany Great Danes narrowly escaped SEFCU Arena with their undefeated conference record intact Wednesday night. UAlbany coach Will Brown’s squad was able to pull away with a 63-62 victory over the University of New Hampshire Wildcats.
The game came down to the very last shot, as Sam Rowley turned the ball over off of an inbounds pass following Jaleen Smith’s free throws that brought the Wildcats within one. With just 1.2 seconds on the clock, Frank Okeke’s deep three clanged off of the back iron and the Great Danes had come away with their tenth consecutive win, all in American East Conference play.
The Great Danes entered play undefeated in the American East and have not lost a game since December. The team improved to 15-7 following the win, with UNH falling to 13-10. UAlbany has won six in a row since Peter Hooley, the team’s leading scorer, left the team to be with his mother Sue, who recently passed away. Coach Brown’s squad has used Hooley’s unfortunate circumstances to rally.
“I’m surprised and proud of our squad. If you told me that we’d be undefeated in conference play with Peter I wouldn’t believe you. But if you told me we wouldn’t have Peter, I’d be questioning your sanity,” Brown said.
Brown thought up designs to commemorate Sue Hooley’s passing, with the players all sporting a patch in her honor on their jerseys. The team also wore warm up shirts with Sue Hooley’s initials, SH, inside a heart and Peter’s number 12 on the back. “I just wanted to do something for our team, for Pete and his family, and also for the community, the fans that come out and support us every game,” Brown said.
Three Great Danes scored in double digits as Sam Rowley paced the team with 17 points and eight rebounds. Despite the near double-double, Rowley turned it over five times, including the inbounds pass that gave UNH a shot to win it.
When asked what happened to UAlbany in the second half Rowley cited UNH’s zone defense as to why UAlbany struggled from the field. “We were flat when they started playing zone.” He said, referencing the final inbounds play, “I should have been running the baseline better.”
Evan Singletary added 15, including a pull up three that gave the Great Danes a three-point lead with 1:04 remaining in the game. Singletary shot 3-5 from three-point range in a game where the Great Danes struggled from deep, shooting just 6-19. Ray Sanders also scored in double digits, adding 13 for the Great Danes.
The Wildcats shot 43 percent in the loss, shooting more efficiently than the Danes who were just 37 percent from the field. Jacoby Armstrong paced the Wildcats with a game-high 18 points. Matt Miller and Jaleen Smith added 14 and 11, respectively.
The Great Danes hold the nation’s longest conference winning streak with 10 consecutive victories and are the first team in the nation to win 10 games in conference play. Just Tulsa and Kentucky, the nation’s top ranked team, remain undefeated in conference play. UAlbany faces UMass Lowell this Saturday night for the annual Big Purple Growl.