UAlbany men’s basketball struggles against Vermont but Catamounts rally wins for America East – The Daily Gazette


How the last 10 minutes played out was so painful because of the way the first 30 went.

And the pain stemming from those final minutes of UAlbany’s 73-61 loss in Vermont on Monday is something head coach Dwayne Killings wants to cheer for the Great Dane in the second half of conference play.

“That’s an odd statement I’m going to make, but our kids are really pissed — and I’m glad they are,” Killings said, “because I think they believe and know they would have won the game.” be able . So now we have to figure out how to win it next time.”

On the home court of the America East Conference’s top men’s basketball program, UAlbany — a program with a freshman head coach, a roster missing four players from season-ending injuries, and a schedule that began with seven losses in the first eight Games – forced the Catamounts to play their best basketball to extend their winning streak to 10 games.

Vermont has that extra gear UAlbany has yet to develop, and head coach John Becker’s club capitalized on it after Great Dane guard Jamel Horton’s bucket hit 49 with just under 11 minutes remaining in the second half. Teams played scoreless basketball for about 90 seconds after Horton’s make, then Vermont — a club that has won all of its conference games this season by at least 10 points — scored the next 10 points in a 16-2 run.

UAlbany’s Matt Cerruti said that Great Danes are still “growing and learning” and acknowledged that the Catamounts are well past that stage.

“I think just disappointment,” said Cerruti, who scored a game-high 22 points, of the post-game feeling for the Great Danes. “We know what we’re capable of and I think we’ve shown really good signs of that at certain points in the game. However, in the end we didn’t get the result we wanted, so I think we put in all the hard work [only] not getting that result hurts. But we know what we are building on and we know what we are capable of.”

UAlbany, who started third in the Americas East standings and left Burlington in fourth place, was never closer than nine points after Vermont’s 16-2 run that included nearly six minutes of goalless overtime for UAlbany . Before the Catamounts erupted in the late game, neither team was more than eight points clear in a game marked by eight ties, numerous lead changes and back-and-forth action.

“We’re close, man. We’re nearby. We’re really close. We’re really close, and people know it — and we’re close,” Killings said, his reprise emphasizing his point. “We just have to double down and dig a little deeper. But we’re close to being the team and program we want to be, and we believe in it. We were right there. We just didn’t do enough at the right moment, but we’re close. I’m not into the whole moral victory thing, so I don’t do it, but they’re a good team. They’re a really good team. They make you pay for your mistakes, that’s for sure.”

Monday’s game pitted the top attacking and defending players per possession in the America East Conference. Vermont (8-0 America East, 16-4 agg) brought up the league’s best offense while UAlbany (5-4, 9-12) had the conference’s best defense. After Monday’s game, the Great Danes’ defense dropped to 3rd place in America East.

Ryan Davis — the reigning America East Player of the Year — led Vermont with 17 points, while Ben Shungu scored 16 and former Colonie High School standout Isaiah Powell added 14. Powell and Shungu each had seven points during the 16-2 run for the Catamounts, a team that suffered its most recent loss on December 7 to a Providence program leading the Great East.

Chuck Champion and Jamel Horton each had 11 points for the Great Danes. UAlbany made 11 of 22 3-pointers to help his cause, but Vermont made 56.9% of his shots.

Monday’s competition at Roy L. Patrick High School closed a three-game chapter of the Great Danes’ season, which they had described as trial “championship week.” The trio of street competitions, held over a six-day period, were designed to simulate America East’s postseason format, and the Great Danes won the first two before falling to Vermont.

In March, a similar result would mean a second place finish – and the Great Danes are looking to use the next month to put themselves in a position to go 3-0 in the games that matter most to them.

“I think we’ve learned a lot about ourselves and I hope that when we get a chance to play three games later in the season, the last one, we’ll get down to business and do what we can,” Killings said . “But I think the greatest thing is . . . we know we can do this. Well, will we? It all comes down to execution. It depends on me It depends on our program, our staff and our players – but we know we can do it.”


Ahead of Monday’s game, UAlbany freshman Justin Neely received his fifth America East Rookie of the Week award.

Neely averaged five points and 3.5 rebounds in two UAlbany wins last week.

In Monday’s game, Neely had two points and three rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench.


UAlbany hosts UMBC (4-4, 9-10) on Wednesday at 7pm.

This meeting comes two weeks after the Great Danes’ 66-54 victory in the teams’ first matchup.

UAlbany ends its week with a Saturday game in Hartford (3-2, 5-12) that now sits third in the conference standings.

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