Great Danes crush Hawks, but Hooley suffers concussion
ALBANY In a pivotal game in terms of both momentum and conference seeding, University at Albany made the right moves Saturday night at SEFCU Arena.
After a lackluster defeat at Maine last week, the Great Danes rebounded with one of their best performances of the season, crushing Hartford, 75-49, and taking over sole possession of fourth place in the America East Conference. In reality, the Danes are now in third place, because Boston University, currently in third, is ineligible for the conference tournament.
The Great Danes shot 55.3 percent from the floor, connected on 10 of 16 three-point shots and held a 34-27 edge on the boards against the Hawks, who entered the game tied with the Danes in the conference standings. The victory also completed a season sweep of the Hawks.
UAlbany led by as much as 29 points and substituted freely late in the second half. Nine Great Danes logged at least 15 minutes.
The Great Danes improved to 8-5 in the conference and 19-8 overall. They need one win in their last four regular-season games to reach the 20-win plateau for the third time as a Division I program.
Fifth-year senior Jacob Iati poured in 18 points on 6-for-9 shooting from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc. Mike Black chipped in with 14 points. He moved into sole possession of eighth place on the all-time scoring list with 1,427 points, and, with three assists, jumped up to sixth on the program’s career assist list with 370.
About the only negative in the game was a concussion suffered by redshirt freshman Peter Hooley with 10:44 left in the game and the Danes up, 54-34.
“I don’t expect him to play the next two games,” said UAlbany head coach Will Brown of Hooley. “We will take this very slow, and we’re looking at the big picture so we can have him back for the America East Conference tournament.”
Brown said that Hooley must wait three to five days after he suffers any headache symptoms before he can get back to practice and have any contact.
The Great Danes played exceptionally good defense in the first half, limiting the Hawks to 20 points and 26.1 percent shooting. UAlbany used a 19-1 run to open up a 37-16 cushion and held a 40-20 halftime edge. The Great Danes eventually grabbed their biggest lead, 73-44, with three minutes left.
“We’re not paying attention to the standings,” said Brown. “We have 21 days left before the tournament, and win, lose or draw, we want to get better before the tournament. We’re not worried about finishing second, third, fourth or fifth. We don’t put too much emphasis on just one game.”
That being said, the Danes were excited about their performance.
“The biggest thing was how we came out to play,” said Iati. “We played well on the defensive end, and that led to our good offense. We all have the same goal. We just want to get better before the tournament.”
Harford head coach John Gallagher gave the Danes plenty of credit for the rout of his 7-6, 14-12 Hawks.
“That’s their best performance of the season that I’ve seen, and it’s our worst performance of the year,” Gallagher said. “We make no excuses in our program.”
Gallagher said his team looked tired. The Hawks eventually cut the 20-point halftime deficit down to 15 with the help of a full-court press, but the Danes responded with back-to-back three-pointers by Jayson Guerrier and Iati to pull away once more.
“Our thing is to finish as well as we can,” said Brown. “It might not look like it on the scoreboard, but we want to be playing better once the tournament starts.”
Nwakamma 4-10 3-5 12, Peterson 1-5 4-5 7, Sikma 4-10 0-0 10, Wroe 4-4 0-0 8, Moore 0-5 1-2 1, Cole 0-4 0-0 0, U’u 2-6 0-0 6, Aska 0-0 0-0 0, Cooper 1-7 0-0 3, Burrell 0-0 0-0 0, Akerland 0-0 0-0 0, Faulk 1-3 0-0 2, Schneck 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-54 8-12 49
Rowley 3-3 2-2 8, Puk 2-6 4-4 8, Iati 6-9 2-2 18, Black 4-10 3-4 14, Hooley 2-3 0-1 4, Williams 0-0 0-0 0, Evans 3-4 1-2 8, Devlin 0-0 0-0 0, Johnson 2-4 0-0 4, Metcalf 1-2 1-2 3, Wiegmann 0-1 0-0 0, Page 0-2 0-0 0, Guerrier 3-3 0-0 8. Totals: 26-47 13-17 75.
Halftime: UAlbany, 40-20. Three-point goals: Hartford 7-32 (Nwakamma 1-4, Peterson 1-4, Sikma 2-7, Moore 0-4, Cole 0-3, U’u 2-5, Cooper 1-5); UAlbany 10-16 (Iati 4-5, Black 3-6, Evans 1-2, Page 0-1, Guerrier 2-2). Rebounds: Hartford 27 (U’u 5), UAlbany 34 (Rowley 6). Assists: Hartford 11 (Peterson 3), UAlbany 13 (Black 3, Hooley 3). Personal fouls: Harford 20, UAlbany 13. Fouled out: Sikma. Officials: Jeffry Bryant, Michael Alvaro, Joe Smoot. Attendance: 2,906.