WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – With Greig Stire matching a program Division I single game record 15 rebounds, the UAlbany men’s basketball team used strong play in the paint to defeat the three-point shooting Hartford 74-61 on the road on Saturday night.
UAlbany (13-10, 4-4 AE) used runs of 12-0 and 8-0 to break ahead in the early going of the first half, holding off the late press of Hartford (6-17, 1-7 AE). The Great Danes led by at least nine points the entire second half.
“We came out with tremendous energy and sustained it,” said UAlbany head coach Will Brown. “Hartford is a challenge as they spread the floor and shoot many threes, and we did a nice job all around tonight.”
It is the fifth time in UAlbany’s history that a player grabbed 15 rebounds. Stire matches the mark set by Sam Rowley twice, including the last such occasion in 2015, Blake Metcalf and Dave Schloss.
“It feels good, a lot of the time on rebounding it comes down to [opposing] people missing shots, and we did a good job on helping on that,” said Stire.
UAlbany outrebounded Hartford 44-29 and had 30 points in the paint to Hartford’s 10, countering Hartford’s 12 three-point baskets in 36 attempts.
Stire added eight points and two assists to his 15 boards. Joe Cremo had a team-high 20 points, also having eight rebounds, three assists and three steals while David Nichols notched 19 points, three assists and two steals.
For Hartford, Jalen Ross picked up 18 points and three assists while Jack Hobbs got 11 points, two steals and two blocks.
The game started with early exchanges, with a J.R. Lynch long three, his second basket in as many attempts, giving Hartford the early 5-2 advantage three minutes in.
UAlbany’s defense kept Hartford as the perimeter, leading to five straight misses from three-point range. UAlbany took advantage and went on an 8-0 run, continued by a deep Cremo three after shaking off a defender, then stealing an in-bounds for a fast break layup by Travis Charles. Cremo added another layup on a fast break to make it a 12-0 run as UAlbany led 16-7 with 11:20 left in 1st.
UAlbany continued to hold on Hartford’s perimeter shooting, when at 17-11, broke on an 8-0 run, sandwiched by Devonte Campbell scoring with Charles hitting two layups, to push ahead 25-11 with seven minutes left in the 1st.
Towards the end of the half, Hartford started to hit some of its three-point shots. After a Nichols three, Jalen Ross knocked down a pair of three-pointers in the half’s final minute, making it 34-26 UAlbany at the break.
At 38-29 early in the second, UAlbany broke ahead with a 11-0 sprint, starting with a Nichols kickout to Cremo for a three. Campbell continued with two free throws and a layup, then Nichols stole a pass from the zone defense and broke away for the layup. Charles added another jumper to give UAlbany a 47-29 advantage with 15:34 remaining in the 2nd.
Following a 5-0 Hartford run started by a Max Twyman three, Nichols had the next two UAlbany baskets, including stealing the ball up top of the arc from Lynch and driving himself for the layup, making it 54-37 UAlbany midway through the period.
Hartford’s attack from three continued, with Jack Hobbs and Ross hitting back-to-back in less than a minute to pull the home team within 10 at 56-46 with 7:30 to play.
Stire grabbed the record-tying rebound with 6:45 to play on a defensive board. The other way, Nichols hit his jumper off the window to make it 58-46 UAlbany.
Hartford got back to within single digits off another three, with UAlbany primarily using the free throw line to keep its lead strong. With 3:16 left, a layup and one by Cremo plus a couple of Stire free throws in succession helped UAlbany seal the game. The Great Danes took the victory 74-61.
UAlbany’s next two games are at home, starting with a 7 p.m. contest against UMass Lowell on Wednesday, February 1st.