By Vince Gasparini | December 10, 2023
The University at Albany men’s basketball team that went 8-23 last season doesn’t quite look the same as the one that bested Dartmouth 73-68 on Saturday (Dec. 2) night. The Great Danes collected their fourth straight win in the triumph, their longest win streak in four years in front of a home crowd of 2,075 at the Broadview Center.
Jonathan Beagle dunking on Saturday night.
Photo Credit: Savanna Stoddart
The two teams went back and forth in the first half, in which there were six lead changes and eight tied scores. Going into the break, the Great Danes held a slim 36-35 lead. In the second half, UAlbany ran away in the final four minutes with the help of clutch shooting by Sebastian Thomas and Jonathan Beagle.
Thomas, a junior guard who transferred to UAlbany after two seasons at the University of Rhode Island, spearheaded the effort for the Great Danes. He recorded team highs with 24 points, six assists, and three steals, all while shooting 47.1% from the field and 7-10 from the charity stripe.
Thomas, who has led the Great Danes in assists in their last seven games, feels confident in his ability to elevate his teammates. “I think I get guys open, I think I make the game easier for others,” he said. “The bigs do a great job of setting screens, and I think I have a feel of where guys like to get the ball.”
Head coach Dwayne Killings, who said that Thomas could be the best guard in the NCAA America East this season in October, is happy with what he’s seen so far. “He’s a confident kid,” Killings said. “I think he has everybody’s trust of putting the ball in his hands to make plays.”
Jonathan Beagle put up 15 points and a season/team high 14 rebounds, posting his second double-double of the year. Amar’e Marshall added on 12 points and seven boards, and matched Thomas’ three steals.
The Great Danes shot 42.9% from the field, while the Big Green shot with a mark of 44.6%. UAlbany beat them elsewhere on the stat sheet though, collecting 12 offensive rebounds compared to Dartmouth’s four, tallying 14 second chance points to the Big Green’s two, and out-assisting them 14 to 10.
Beagle finds that team chemistry has made this season’s Great Danes better at finishing games. “Last year, we were in games late and then we’d just blow it at the end, because I don’t think we were as close as we are now.” he said. “We all believe in each other and that’s the big difference.”
UAlbany now sits at a record of 5-3, while Dartmouth falls to 1-5. The Great Danes wrap up this home stretch against Potsdam on Tuesday, Dec. 5.
“I think we have a really talented group,” Killings said. “We’re learning how to win, and I think we can get better, but I think now it’s like, ‘OK, this team’s for real.’”