ALBANY, N.Y. – The UAlbany men’s basketball team, aided by the comeback of Brooklyn-native Travis Charles, outrebounded St. Francis 50-21 en route to an 87-60 victory for a win in its final non-conference home game of the season.
Down 33-30 with 2:56 left in the first half, UAlbany (7-5) scored the next 17 points over a span of eight minutes to go ahead for good over St. Francis (2-9).
“I thought our kids competed hard all game; in the second half, we stopped hurting ourselves,” said UAlbany head coach Will Brown. “I thought we got good shots and we had multiple stops (on defense), that latter one is something we take pride in.”
UAlbany’s +29 rebounding margin is the highest of the season against a Division I opponent, surpassing +17 against Penn State and Holy Cross. Six Great Danes had at least five rebounds, compared to no Terriers doing the same. The Great Danes also scored 40 points in the paint to St. Francis’s 28.
Charles, who returned after missing a couple of games, had 15 points off 4-5 shooting and 7-9 from the free throw line. He was one of five Great Danes in double figure scoring, led by Joe Cremo, who had 20 points, including 4-for-5 from three-point range, plus five rebounds and five assists.
Marqueese Grayson scored 13 points and grabbed six boards while Greig Stire nearly had a double-double with 10 points and eight rebounds. Dallas Ennema had a career-high 10 rebounds, also having points, four assists and two blocks.
For St. Francis, Rasheem Dunn tallied 13 points and four assists off the bench while Glenn Sanabria had 11 plus two steals.
Stire was UAlbany’s target early, hitting a layup on the team’s first possession then being fouled on a layup attempt next. Down 4-2, Grayson sparked a quick 9-2 spurt with a deep three, adding a jumper and two free throws to make it 11-6 UAlbany just over five minutes in.
The visitors were kept away from the paint area but fired away from long range. St. Francis hit four of the next five shots in the game, capped by two baskets in a row by D.J. Porter, to lead 16-13. Cremo hit a kick-out three, then drew contact the next possession and scored two free throws to push UAlbany ahead 18-16 with under 10 minutes left in the 1st.
A fast break by David Nichols to a racing Mike Rowley for a layup put UAlbany back up with 8:14 left in the 1st. The teams kept trading as Sanabria hit a fadeaway then a three off the screen for the Terriers, which was countered by two Charles free throws then a Cremo deep three for a 25-23 advantage.
The exchanges continued as UAlbany looked to break the St. Francis fullcourt press. After each side had a two-possession run, Ennema hit two free throws, blocked a Terrier shot, hit a three off a pass then drew a double for the pass to Rowley for the layup and one to make it 38-33 in the closing minutes of the half. UAlbany took that five-point lead into the locker room.
The UAlbany defense continued to hold down St. Francis, keeping the Terriers without points for almost five minutes to start the second, combining for almost eight minutes from the first period. Spearheaded by another half’s starting run by Stire, UAlbany totaled 17-0 in the run, dating back to the last half, to surge ahead 47-33 in the first four minutes of the 2nd.
St. Francis continued to press, leading to a 7-0 run with scores from three different players to pull within 10 at 54-44, leading to a UAlbany timeout with 11 minutes left.
UAlbany’s aggressive stance on the boards and fast play led to another run, as Nichols socred five points on an 11-2 spurt, capped by a second chance three with 9:10 left, for a 65-46 advantage. Relying on play in the paint, Charles and Cremo added to the advantage stood ahead 75-48 with 5:46 left.
UAlbany kept a strong advantage the rest of the way, including a corner three by Costa Anderson, to earn the 87-60 victory.
UAlbany will go wheels up for its next game, flying to Dallas to take on SMU on Tuesday, December 20th at 8 p.m. ET (7 p.m. CT).
-David Vatz(UAlbany Athletics)