Baltimore, MD –– The UAlbany men’s basketball team had a season-best 50 points allowed in a game on Monday afternoon, leading to a 77-50 victory at UMBC for the first conference victory of the year.
UAlbany (10-9, 1-3 AE) took its first lead 4:34 into the game and never trailed again. UAlbany held UMBC (12-6, 3-2 AE) to a scoreless drought of at least four minutes three separate times in the game.
“I was pleased with our overall defensive energy,and focus; I thought we did a very good job executing the gameplan,” said UAlbany head coach Will Brown. “It was the most consistent defensive effort all season for us.”
With the win, Brown has his 249th victory as UAlbany’s head coach. His next win will make him just the third America East men’s basketball head coach to earn 250 victories at the helm of a league school.
UAlbany outrebounded UMBC 41-26 in the game, held the Retrievers to 32.7% shooting and did not allow any opposing player to score in double digits. On the offensive end, the Great Danes shot 51.9% from the field with 36 points in the paint to UMBC’s 14.
David Nichols went 8-for-13 from the floor for 18 points and four steals. Joe Cremo notched 15 points, six boards and three assists while Greig Stire got 11 points and five rebounds.
“It was a full team effort, especially on defense,” said Nichols. “We just had the mindset, let’s keep rebounding, let’s keep playing defense.”
For UMBC, Rodney Elliott had nine points and two rebounds off the bench. Jairus Lyles, who came in as the leading scorer in the America East Conference, was held to six points and five rebounds.
After an exchange of baskets, Will Darley hit a couple of threes for UMBC from up top the arc. Nichols led the counterattack with a kickout three then a coast-to-coast layup. Cremo added a one-hand floater in the paint for an 11-10 UAlbany lead five minutes through.
UAlbany’s defense started the hold, leading to UMBC missing seven straight shots. Dallas Ennema added to the streak with a turnaround jumper along the baseline, then a long three on a fast break to push the run to14-0, giving UAlbany an 18-10 advantage with 11 minutes left in the 1st.
UMBC broke the streak and continued to pepper from three, hitting a couple from Elliott. Nichols kept hitting shots and kept UAlbany ahead, adding his second three-pointer for a 25-20 advantage with seven minutes to go in the 1st.
The defense continued to keep UMBC from scoring with a four-minute home team drought. UAlbany slowly built its run to 10-0, capped by a layup and one from Cremo, for a 32-20 advantage at the final first half media timeout.
A couple of free throws from the UAlbany frontcourt kept the lead strong as the Great Danes led 37-25 at the break.
After UMBC made a free throw to begin the half, UAlbany put together a quick 9-2 spurt, started by a layup and one from Stire and helped by two Nichols layups, to go up 46-29, 3:07 into the second.
UAlbany forced another UMBC drought, this one going 7:02. Rallied by a putback layup and one by Devonte Campbell, UAlbany continued to drive, either hitting a layup or kicking out for a three. Ennema and Costa Anderson added baskets from beyond the arc, leading to a 16-0 run for a 62-32 UAlbany advantage with 10 minutes to play.
Stire hit six-of-six free throws down the stretch as UAlbany continued its strong play. A layup by Nichols made it 72-44 UAlbany by the final media timeout.
Terrel Martin-Garcia and Nick Fruscio got in the game late as UAlbany cruised to the 77-50 victory.
UAlbany comes back to the SEFCU Arena for a three-game homestand, beginning with a Thursday night matchup against SUNY rival Binghamton on January 19th at 7 p.m.
-Dave Vatz/UAlbany Athletics