The UAlbany Great Danes Men's Basketball team took the floor at SEFCU Arena to take on the UMass Lowell River Hawks in their third conference game of the season, winning 57-47. UAlbany came in 0-2 in conference play and looked to be on their way to 0-3 but a late run in the second half sparked the comeback victory for the Great Danes.
The first half of the game was a defensive battle, with neither team finding any rhythm on the offensive side of the ball. The two teams only managed 41 points total in the entire half, with UAlbany sporting a 21-20 lead at the break.
Both teams shot under 32% from the field and were a combined 2/18 from the three-point line. The Great Danes saw eight of their attempts blocked by UMass Lowell, who had 13 turnovers themselves.
UMass began to pull away from UAlbany in the second half, quickly building their lead to double digits to open the half. The Great Danes responded in a major way, however, going on a 17-2 run to take the lead. UMass would respond, but UAlbany would eventually outlast the River Hawks for their first conference win of the Dwayne Killings era.
“I thought this was a great character win for our program,'' said UAlbany head coach Dwayne Killings. “Not the prettiest game obviously. There’s no quit in our group…we just kept chopping and chopping and we walked out of here with a win.”
Senior center Paul Newman made his presence known in the paint during the game. Newman had 12 points and 17 rebounds, 11 of them offensive. HIs activity on the glass set the tone for the Great Danes and his ability to keep plays alive proved vital in the hard-fought victory. “I had to do my work early,” said a modest Newman when asked about his rebounding performance. “Luckily I came up with a couple more than he did.”
Wednesday also marked the return to the lineup for shooting guard Matt Cerruti from COVID protocol. Cerruti tallied 12 points, 5 rebounds, and two steals in his return to the lineup, and each one of his baskets proved to be crucial down the stretch of the game.
Cerruti wasn’t the only player who had to step up for the Great Danes. De’Vondre Perry and Jamel Horton, normally the offensive leaders for UAlbany, went 4/22 during the game and found themselves in foul trouble early and often, forcing the supporting cast to pick up the slack, and they did in a major way.
“It just comes down to wanting it,” said Cerruti. “We might get tired during the game but you get that second wind…once that happened we got comfortable and got right into the flow of the game and it came easily for all of us.”
The win is the fifth for UAlbany on the season, and their first in conference play. They will look to carry that momentum to Saturday when they take on NJIT at home.