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Men’s Basketball blows lead, falls to Quinnipiac in Overtime

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By Zachary Gaylis

Senior Staff Writer

sports.asp@gmail.com

Nov. 24, 2014

Photo by Aaron Cheris UAlbany couldn't hold a second half lead, and fell at home to Quinnipiac
Photo by Aaron Cheris
UAlbany couldn’t hold a second half lead, and fell at home to Quinnipiac.

The University at Albany men’s basketball team lost a heartbreaker on Saturday night at SEFCU Arena, falling to the Quinnipiac University Bobcats 76-73.

The Danes started the game right where they left off against NJIT on Wednesday, getting everyone involved and building a 23-6 lead 12 minutes into the game. Early on, the Great Danes seemed very intent on winning the physical battle with the Bobcats, keeping them out of the paint and preventing many offensive rebound opportunities.

The Danes ball movement was contagious to begin with, and players such as center Richard Peters and forward Sam Rowley fed off it with open lay-ups. Peters was impressive, scoring a career-high eight points and keeping Bobcats center Ousmane Drame from receiving the ball in the low-post. Although limited at times, Drame was a force to be reckoned with, scoring a game-high 18 points and going 8-8 from the charity stripe. His interior game was tremendous all around, displaying a strong post-game complimented by his mid-range shooting. If not for Drame, the Bobcats wouldn’t have been able to stay within striking range of the Great Danes.

Despite seven first half points, Rowley struggled mightily against the taller forwards of the Bobcats. His reluctance to pass out of the post or face the basket would led to two pivotal turnovers in game’s waning moments.

UAlbany head coach Will Brown was dissatisfied with his captain’s performance. “Sam’s got to stop being ignorant. He has to understand that he can’t bully his way down on taller defenders like that. It’s important that he learns to face-up and diversify his game,” Brown said after the game.

After a fantastic performance against NJIT on Wednesday, UAlbany guard Wheeler Baker did not see much playing time against the Bobcats, playing a total of 12 minutes and scoring six first-half points.

The last five minutes of the half saw the Bobcats go on an 11-2 run, cutting the Danes lead to just nine at the half. The Danes managed to win the rebounding and turnover battle in the first half with 21 and five respectively.

The second half was all about the Bobcats, who came out the locker room gunning. They connected on their first four shots and forced coach Brown to call a quick timeout with his team up just two points at 37-35. Just two minutes later, Drame hit a fade-away jumper to give the Bobcats their first lead at 45-44.

Quinnipiac reserve guard Dimitri Floras played a big role in the team’s resurgence. He converted on 3-5 three-point field goal attempts and finished with 14 points off the bench.

The pace of the game picked up significantly, as both teams continued to exchange leads until the final whistle. UAlbany guards Evan Singletary, Peter Hooley, and Ray Sanders collectively converted on four three point field-goal attempts within the last three minutes to keep the Great Danes level.

The final seconds would come down to a Bobcats possession. The Danes packed in the paint and forced Bobcats guard Evan Conti to take a difficult shot, yet Floras recovered it and shockingly missed a wide-open layup from the left side of the basket as time expired, forcing the game into overtime.

The overtime session was a dogfight of its own. After falling behind by six with just a minute remaining, Hooley scored five quick points for the Danes, bringing them within one point with just 11 seconds remaining. On the ensuing inbound, the Danes would force a jump ball with the possession arrow in their favor.

Coach Brown drew up a play that was nearly executed to perfection, but Hooley, whether he was fouled or not, missed the lay-up and the Danes were forced to foul with just three seconds left. Two made free throws put the Bobcats up 76-73 and Hooley’s half-court attempt was no good, giving the Bobcats a hard-fought victory on the road.

Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore was very impressed with his team’s effort. “I thought our starters really picked up their intensity in the second half. Our reserves did a great job keeping us in the game. We have one of the best conditioning staffs in the country and I just felt our guys seemed fresh throughout the second half into overtime. It says a lot about our team,” he said.

When asked of his team’s inability to hold a lead, coach Brown was rather unsurprised. “That is a very good basketball team. We won the first half by nine and they won the second by nine. Throw that baby up in overtime and that’s what you get,” he said.

Fortunately for UAlbany, the season is still young, and there is always the next game to look forward to. The Great Danes will try and bounce back when they travel to Colgate on Wednesday, Nov. 26.

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