By Christian Hince | November 17, 2022
Photo credit: Kathleen Helman
It was a tale of two halves for the University of Albany men’s basketball team on Saturday, who lost by 13 in a heavily promoted matchup against the Siena Saints. With this, the Great Danes dropped to 1-2, the Saints improved to 2-0.
The first Albany Cup in five years and UAlbany head coach Dwayne Killings’ first game since being suspended was rife with storylines. It had the impassioned atmosphere of a rivalry game, with neither fanbase tuning out of the contest at any point.
The game started slow and sluggish, with UAlbany holding a 6-2 lead at the under 16:00 media timeout. Siena scored a quick seven points after guard Javian McCollum drained two threes while defended by Will Amica, the second of which included a free throw basket off a shooting foul.
The match’s most unsettling moment came shortly thereafter at the 12:36 mark, when UAlbany starter Justin Neely went to the floor after being fouled on a drive. Clutching his knee, the 6 '6 forward laid on the ground for multiple minutes before being helped to the locker room by two Great Danes assistants. Neely, who was last season’s America East Rookie of the Year, may have “a severe knee injury,” according to Coach Killings after the game.
The first half was marred by Great Dane foul trouble, with Siena entering the bonus less than eight minutes in. While overall UAlbany struggled early on with offensive rhythm, guard Da’Kqwan Davis drove to the basket with ease for eight of the team’s first 12 points.
Down 16-15 with just over seven minutes left before half, the Great Danes’ offensive attack all came together. Forward Gerald Drumgoole became electric beyond the arc with four threes, big man Johnathan Beagle’s rebounding and passing controlled the paint, and guard Sarju Patel added a layup and a three-pointer to alter the game’s momentum.
The Saints couldn’t find the same synergy, and with UAlbany leading 35-27 with seconds on the clock, Great Dane forward Trey Hutcheson knocked down a buzzer-beater triple. A scrappy defender all game, Hutcheson came alive on offense in the half’s closing minutes with seven heading into the locker room.
Coming out of the break, Siena guard Jared Billups opened things with a three, only to see UAlbany pick up where they left off. The Drumgoole onslaught continued with another triple as well as an and-one layup for an additional three, with reinforcement by Beagle’s scoring from inside the paint and the free-throw line.
Seeing their advantage stretch to sixteen, leading 50-36 at the under 16:00 timeout, the wheels soon fell off for the Great Danes. Drumgoole cooled down, he missed opportunities at the free throw line, and a failing rebounding game which missed the size of Justin Neely, an 18-point streak saw the Saints go ahead 59-55, when Platek – on a shooting spree – drilled a three. The Saints crowd roared.
Led by McCollum, Platek reinforced Siena’s newly coordinated offense across the second half. If he wasn’t sending the Siena brass into a frenzy after a triple, his misses at least quieted the Saints crowd in anticipation every time. The forward finished 3/7 beyond the arc after halftime.
While a Drumgoole free throw brought the deficit back to three, UAlbany never came closer to victory. Turnovers, a tamed Great Danes shooting attack, and the rebounding dominance of 6 ‘9 Siena forward Jackson Stormo helped the Saints roll into a 75-62 victory over UAlbany.
Siena dominated the second half. Outscoring UAlbany 48-24 across the final 20 minutes, the Saints shot 53.1% from the field and 53.8% from deep, coming out of break, compared to the Great Danes’ 28% from the field and 22.2% from three.
Drumgoole led UAlbany scorers across the night, notching 22. “We’d iso[late] him sometimes, he got catch-and-shoot threes, he was great,” said Coach Killings after the game. “I thought fatigue set in for him a little bit.”
Trey Hutcheson enjoyed the game’s intimate atmosphere, but was expectedly disappointed with the team’s loss and the team’s continued issues with consistency. “We have those five minutes where we’re really good and then we have five minutes where we seem to kind of fall apart for a bit,” he said.