DURHAM, N.H. – Playing its fifth game on the road in their last six, the University at Albany men’s basketball team visited New Hampshire Wednesday night in the first of a two-game road swing. After leading by as many as 13 early in the second half, the Great Danes saw the Wildcats claw back to take the lead, only to reverse their fortune by forcing overtime and clinching a 76-73 victory to remain unbeaten against America East opponents.
New Hampshire scored first, and quickly jumped out to a seven-point lead, 13-6, with 15:58 remaining in the first. Shortly after, Cameron Healy hit his first three-pointer of the night, extending his made-threes streak to 50 games. The basket cut UAlbany’s deficit to 13-9.
UAlbany closed within one with 11:50 remaining in the first when Romani Hansen hit a three to cut the Wildcats’ lead to 18-17. Four minutes later, Ahmad Clark hit a three to tie the game at 25.
UAlbany took its first lead, 28-25, on a three-pointer from Clark with 6:35 remaining in the first half. Another three from Healy extended UAlbany’s scoring run to 9-0, prompting a New Hampshire timeout.
New Hampshire finally broke UAlbany’s streak, which had lasted two minutes of game time, with a layup with 5:22 to go in the first. The Great Danes quickly went back up by seven before the final media time out of the half.
The Great Danes led by as many as nine with just under one minute remaining in the first. New Hampshire closed within six behind a three-pointer with 36 seconds to go in the half, and trailed 41-35 heading into the locker room.
Healy led all scorers with 15 points at the break on 5-7 shooting, including 3-4 from behind the arc. He also led UAlbany with five rebounds in the first 20 minutes. Clark added 11 points on 4-7 shooting. Collectively, UAlbany shot 7-11 from three in the first half, and 14-27 overall. The Great Danes had neutralized New Hampshire on the glass, limiting the Wildcats to 14 total rebounds in the first half, well off their average pace of 43.5 per game.
Malachi de Sousa struck quickly in the second half, draining a shot in the paint just 15 seconds after play resumed to put UAlbany up eight. Two minutes later, Adam Lulka hit one of two free-throws to give UAlbany their first double-digit lead of the game, 46-36. During this stretch, UAlbany led by as many as 13, 51-38 with 15:00 remaining.
New Hampshire started inching its way back, cutting UAlbany’s lead to single digits first with 13:41 remaining, and then for good with 13:01 remaining. With 11:42 to go, New Hampshire had climbed within three, and then the Wildcats tied the game at 53 with a three-pointer with 10:43 left.
Clark responded immediately, hitting a three to retake the lead for the Danes. UAlbany re-extended its lead to as many as six before New Hampshire surged, retaking the lead with 6:39 to go.
New Hampshire went up by three shortly after taking back the lead. UAlbany maintained contact with the Wildcats, never trailing by more than three for the final 4:33. Trailing by that amount with 17 seconds to go, Clark drained a three to tie the game and force overtime, taking advantage of a missed free throw by New Hampshire to ice the game.
New Hampshire quickly took the lead in the overtime period, going up by as many as three. Scoring came at a premium during the early part of overtime, with New Hampshire scoring the first two points with 3:47 remaining, and the third with 2:31 to go. From there, UAlbany outscored the Wildcats 10-4 in the final 2:17, including 5-1 in the final 24 seconds.
With 1:42 to go, UAlbany retook the lead for the first time since 6:39 in the second half, behind a pair of free throws from Clark. New Hampshire retook the lead with two free throws on the ensuing possession, and went up by two after hitting one of two 30 seconds later.
New Hampshire still led by two with 24 seconds to go. Kendall Lauderdale drew a foul and hit one of two free throws to bring UAlbany within one. On the ensuing in-bounds play for New Hampshire, Antonio Rizzuto stole the pass and drained a layup to put UAlbany up for good, 74-73, with three seconds remaining. New Hampshire turned the ball over again on their next in-bounds play, and fouled Healy with 2.5 seconds to go. Healy drained both free throws, putting UAlbany up by the final score, 76-73.
“Antonio deserves an awful lot of credit,” Head Coach Will Brown said after the victory. “He sat for a long time, but held his head high and was ready when I called his number. I’m proud of my group. We had all the momentum in the world and then we got that technical foul, and that kind of deflated us. It would have been very easy to keep Clark in the game, but what kind of message am I sending him, and what kind of message am I sending the team? So we took him out, sat him a little bit, lost some momentum, and New Hampshire made some plays. Coach Herrion is a heck of a coach, and really makes you work. We reverted in the second half to the self-inflicted mistakes that have haunted us. Every possession matters. The game is never out of reach, one way or the other.”
Rizzuto finished the game with five points and one steal, saving his best for the final few seconds of overtime. Clark finished with 27 points to lead all scorers, 16 of which came in the second half. Healy finished with 18 points. UAlbany held New Hampshire to just 1-8 from three and 15-39 overall in the second half and overtime, and collectively outscored the Wildcats 23-12 off the bench.
The victory is UAlbany’s fourth-straight, their longest winning streak of the season. The Great Danes also handed New Hampshire its first loss at home this season.
Next: UAlbany visits Stony Brook on Saturday, January 18 for a 7:00 p.m. tip. The Great Danes return home to host UMass Lowell on January 22.