CATONSVILLE, M.D. — Returning to the site where their season ended a year ago, the University at Albany men’s basketball team withstood a furious rally by UMBC in the waning moments of Wednesday night’s game to secure a four-point, 67-63 victory. Five Great Danes finished the night in double-figures, led by Malachi de Sousa’s 15 on 5-7 shooting.
“I thought we did a good job tonight,” said Head Coach Will Brown after the game. “Most of our mistakes have been self-inflicted. I told the team at halftime the difference in the second half would be rebounds and turnovers. I felt if we could get a shot every time down the floor we’d be in good shape. UMBC is a good defensive team, and I’m proud of our effort and resiliency, especially with how banged up we are. This is a really good win for us.”
de Sousa kicked off proceedings quickly, draining a three with 19:33 to go on UAlbany’s first possession. Trey Hutcheson hit a three two possessions later to put UAlbany up 6-2 early.
A driving layup from Antonio Rizzuto put UAlbany up six with 17:45 remaining in the first. Hutcheson put the Great Danes up eight with another three-pointer just over a minute later.
UMBC responded with a 7-0 run to cut the Great Dane lead to one. Rizzuto hit a three to put UAlbany back up by four. The Retrievers scored the next six points to take their first lead, 16-14, with 11:37 remaining.
Rizzuto took back the lead for the Danes with his second three of the night. Almost two minutes later, UMBC hit a three to go back up by two.
With 4:56 remaining, and UMBC holding its largest lead of the half, six points, Cameron Healy hit his first three of the night, extending his made-threes streak to 54 games. Healy’s bucket cut UAlbany’s deficit in half, spurring a half-ending scoring run for the Danes.
UAlbany closed the first half on a 10-0 run, holding UMBC scoreless on 0-8 shooting for the final 5:53 of the half. The Danes had shot just 10-29 overall, sinking six threes. Antonio Rizzuto led all scorers with 10 points on 4-8 shooting. The UAlbany defense held UMBC to just 2-10 from three in the first 20 minutes.
Immediately after halftime, Brent Hank drew a foul and hit one of two free-throws to give UAlbany a five-point lead.
UMBC scored six points in less than a minute to retake the lead, 35-34, with 15:28 remaining in the second. Kendall Lauderdale immediately hit a layup on the ensuing possession to put UAlbany back on top.
The Danes responded to UMBC’s 6-0 run with a 7-0 run to take a 41-35 lead. UMBC closed within four on their next possession, only to see UAlbany slowly start to pull away, leading by seven with 11:25 to go.
With 8:31 to go, Ahmad Clark hit a layup to put UAlbany up 10 for the first time, 51-41. The Great Danes earned their largest lead of the night, 11 points, soon after, when Healy hit another three-pointer to go up 54-43.
Healy hit two free throws with 6:03 remaining, scoring his ninth and 10th points of the night, and making him the fourth Great Dane in double-figures. The free-throws kept UAlbany’s lead at 10.
A 10-0 run for UMBC tied the game at 56 with 2:28 remaining. de Sousa next scored five-straight points, including hitting a three to score UAlbany’s first field goal in more than six minutes to put the Danes up five. The Retrievers responded with a three to cut the lead to two, before Hutcheson converted twice at the line to give the Danes a four-point lead with less than 30 seconds to go.
Broken defenses and turnovers thwarted UMBC’s chance to steal the game, and UAlbany went on to win 67-63. de Sousa’s 15 points and six rebounds led five Great Danes in double-figure scoring. UAlbany shot the ball better in the second half, going 12-27, including 5-15 from three and 11-12 from the line after the break. Three Retrievers scored in double-figures.
Next: UAlbany hosts Vermont on Saturday, February 1 in this year’s Big Purple Growl. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.