Albany blows out UMBC in defensive-minded win

ALBANY — When you do everything right in a basketball game, it shows. It did for the Albany Great Danes on Sunday as they beat UMBC (Maryland-Baltimore County) by a final score of 83-39.

It was clear that the Danes were having their type of day early on as it took them less than 13 minutes into the game to grab a 20-4 lead. At the end of that run, the Danes used back-to-back threes from Ahmad Clark to really make it their game. At the break, they already held a 24-point advantage, 36-12.

In the second half in that situation, teams would tend to back off a little bit. However, this was not the case. UAlbany kept pouring it on as they went on a 17-2 run to start the second half, including scoring the first 13 points of the second frame, making their lead a mind-boggling 53-14.

UMBC had gone into the day leading all of Division I college basketball in total three-pointers made and looked to use that to win the game. Albany defended the perimeter all day, holding them to 0-9 in the first half and 2-20 overall. Jairus Lyles, who came into the day shooting 40% from three this season, was contained and shot 0-2.

“I thought we did a good job. Crowded Lyles, defended the three-point line, and we didn’t let their pressure bother us,” Albany coach Will Brown said.

With that, Albany played inside for a lot of the game, using strong interior play to score a lot of their points throughout the day. All in all, 44 of their 83 points came in the paint.

“I wanted to throw the ball inside early and often to see if they were going to double (team) or if they were going to let us play one-on-one. We had success doing it,” Brown added.

After that, the teams played even the rest of the way, despite Albany outscoring UMBC by 20 in the second half, and did not have their biggest lead of the day, 46, until the final minute.

On offense, the Danes had everything working, as they shot nearly 60% on the day, including 65% shooting in the second half. Travis Charles led the offensive charge, scoring 21 points, and David Nichols had 17.

Another key for Albany was the large rebounding advantage they held, 40-23, and looking like the dominant team on the boards all day. Alex Foster led the Danes with 13 rebounds.

“It’s got to start with the defense and the rebounding, and it’s got to end with the defense and rebounding,” Brown said.

Late in the game, Joe Cremo went down with a lower leg injury, leading Dane fans to hold their collective breath. He did return to the bench but not the game. Brown said he does not expect Cremo to practice on Monday, and his status for the team’s game against Vermont on Wednesday is unknown.

The margin of victory of 44 points comes as the program’s largest since February 14, 2016, when they beat Maine at home also by 44, 108-64. It also comes just before they visit America East-leading Vermont on Wednesday.

“Every win is a big win in conference,” David Nichols said. “It was definitely a step, I think, in the right direction with this being the second-place team, and now we have the first-place team so have the same effort, the same focus and the same energy.”

The Danes improve to 4-3 in conference play and 16-6 overall. After Vermont, they play Stony Brook on the road, before returning home on Saturday, February 3, taking on New Hampshire. Game time is set for 7 p.m.

UMBC falls to 4-2 in conference play and 13-8 overall. They play again on Wednesday, taking on Binghamton at home. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. in Baltimore.

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