UAlbany Basketball sweeps Albany Cup
By Zachary Gaylis
Senior Staff Writer
Dec. 16, 2014
Saturday, Dec 13 was a great night for University at Albany basketball fans, as they saw both the women’s and men’s basketball team win both ends of the doubleheader of the Albany Cup at the Times Union Center by scores of 76-57 and 77-68 respectively.
The women’s team put on an impressive display to earn its fifth win of the young season. The first half was full of excitement and back and forth action. Saints forward Margot Hetzke was a force early on, scoring eight points in the first four minutes and giving the Danes problems in the paint. She finished the game with 16 points and went 6-10 from the charity stripe. The Saints as a whole managed to get to the free throw line 22 times opposed to just five free throws from the Danes. Despite the free throw disparity, the UAlbany defense was held tight, forcing the Saints to just 28.6 percent from the field. The teams would head into the locker room with Siena leading 30-27.
However, the second half was all about the Great Danes, who elevated their intensity on the defensive end and outscored the Saints by 22 points in the final 20 minutes. The story of the second half was shooting. The Danes torched the Siena in that department, shooting exactly 50.0 percent compared to a lowly 31.9 percent for Siena. “In the second half, we had more fun with the press, and there was no panic after the first half,” UAlbany guard Imani Tate said of her team’s defensive effort.
Danes forwards Shereesha Richards was dominant in the second half, scoring 20 points and nearly missing a double-double with seven rebounds. She would move into sixth all-time on the Danes scoring list with 1,120 career points. Tate continued her strong play for the Danes, scoring 20 points to go along with five rebounds.
Before the start of the men’s game, the Times Union Center filled to an attendance of 10,278 fans. The energy in the building was soaring, and both teams were determined to get the victory. The Danes were facing a four game losing streak and were desperate for a win. The Saints meanwhile, were missing two starters and were in desperate need of contributions from their bench play.
Although a title battle for the most part, the Danes led throughout. They came out with high intensity, starting with a full court press and looking to force turnovers from the Saints. The press paid dividends early on, when Danes guard Ray Sanders’ steal led to an open fast break and ferocious one handed slam-dunk.
Saints point guard Marquise Wright gave the Danes problems all night. The play of the game came late in the first half when Wright pulled a crossover on Evan Singletary from the top of the arc, and then hopped-stepped his way past Sam Rowley and Richard Peters for the difficult left-handed layup. He filled out the entire stat sheet for the Saints, scoring 14 points, nine rebounds, six assists, and two steals.
The game would continue to go back and forth in the second half. Both teams would go on short runs and the momentum continued to fluctuate. The turning point came with 9:05 remaining, when UAlbany guard/forward Dallas Enema was fouled on a three-point shot attempt, which rattled in the basket. He would go on to convert the free throw, and gave the Danes their first double-digit lead.
The Saints made one last attempt at a comeback with just less than five minutes remaining, when Saints guard Rob Poole knocked down a three-point field goal to cut the deficit to seven. However, UAlbany guard Peter Hooley fired right back with his fourth three-point field goal of the game, giving the Danes their double-digit cushion right back.
UAlbany head coach Will Brown was adamant about his team’s objective for the game. “It’s always a close and intense game. Our mindset was to control the tempo,” Brown said. “If we had opportunities against their pressure, that’s the way we were going to go. We wanted to make them defend and mix up our defenses. They’re very talented, and we needed to play this game at our tempo.”
A major takeaway for the Danes was the play of their starters. Evan Singletary, Peter Hooley, and Sam Rowley combined for 52 of the team’s 77 points. The three starters all played over 35 minutes and will continue to be depended upon to contribute consistently from coach Brown.
Up next, the UAlbany men will try to start a win streak as they look to steal a victory on the road against Ivy League powerhouse Yale. The game will be held at 2:00pm on Saturday, Dec. 20.