Free throws and small ball key in UAlbany’s win against UMass Lowell

ALBANY — Nothing is guaranteed in life.

If one wants to succeed they must put in the work and effort needed to succeed. They must give everything they have especially when it comes to basketball. Players must put in the work during practice and cannot believe they should win because they are the favorite to win.

The University of Albany men’s basketball team might be taking things for granted recently and has hit quite a rough patch. They had lost three of their last five games and they had looked out of sync offensively which has allowed their opponents to stay in the game. They have allowed their opponents to make at least one run where UAlbany’s defense breaks down and they pull away leaving the Great Danes in the dust.

A loss to UMass Lowell (who was without a win in the America East coming into this contest) would be an utter embarrassment for this team who has the potential to at the top of the conference.

However, UAlbany (15-6, 3-3) who have had some success while playing on their home court took care of business last night winning 70-62, but it was not an easy-going. Both teams were neck and neck during the first half exchanging leads and committing a good amount of fouls. UMass Lowell (6-12, 0-5) played scrappy the entire game and began full court pressure right from the opening tip which gave the Danes a hard time to get into a good rhythm at the start of the game.

After a slow start shooting wise for the Danes, both Joe Cremo and Greig Stire kicked in gear and led the team in points with nine. Stire also was fully active on the under the rim, grabbing eight total rebounds (two offensive) during the first half. Stire had to step up throughout the first half because players were in foul trouble including key big men Travis Charles and Alex Foster. UAlbany was forced to play small with Stire as the lone big man for the majority of the first half.

Free throws were key in the first half especially early when UMass Lowell started pressing. UAlbany were not able to shoot a high percentage from the floor but were able to drive to the basket and get the fouls they needed and converted from the charity stripe. 11 of their 33 first half points where from the free throw line allowing them to have nine point advantage at the half.

The second half began just like the first half ended. Nothing seemed to separate these two teams from pulling away from the other and it continued to go back and forth. Both UAlbany and UMass Lowell traded baskets earlier on but the Danes were able to pull away with small runs throughout the second half while building their lead to as high as 10.

The one thing that was consistent the whole game was their defense. The Danes held the River Hawks to 46% shooting during the entire game even though they allowed them to score seven three-point shots.

Senior forward Greig Stire after the game was asked about him stepping up in big spots during the first half. “Every year I’ve tried to improve my offense. Coach tells me to be aggressive when I get the ball and I think I feel a little more confident in myself.” He also gave credit to his teammates. “My teammates are finding me for easy baskets so I think it’s a collected effort and everyone is doing their job.”

Head coach Will Brown, who won his 275th career game as a head coach, addressed the fact that the team had to play a little differently during the first half. “There was no flow to the game, but sometimes games are like that, they’re ugly…we had to do something we haven’t done all year and that we had to play small with four guards on the floor. It was an adjustment offensively and an adjustment defensively for us and our guys handled it well.”

The team will now have today and Saturday to prepare themselves for their game against UMBC on Sunday. UMBC stands in second place in the America East at 4-1 and will probably be the toughest test for the Great Danes thus far in conference play.

Tip off for that game will at 2 pm ET.

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