Monday, February 11, 2008

University of Albany Men's Basketball Sweeps Season Series in 64-61 America East Win Against Vermont

Courtesy: UAlbany Sports Information

Burlington, Vt. - Tim Ambrose had 19 points and Brian Lillis and Jon Iati each had 13in leading UAlbany to a 64-61 America East Conference victory over Vermont on Monday, Feb. 11 before 2,626 fans at Patrick Gymnasium. The Great Danes swept the season series for the first time since joining the conference in 2001.

UAlbany (12-12, AE 7-5) trailed 55-52 with 3:25 remaining, but went back ahead on consecutive three-point field goals by Iati and Brent Wilson, a 6-foot-8 forward who drilled his shot from the left corner. The Great Danes were still ahead 62-58 when Lillis sank two foul shots. However, Lillis fouled Kyle Cieplicki on the next possession while attempting a 3-point basket. After Cieplicki made all three from the line, Iati was fouled in the backcourt with 5.6 seconds left. The senior guard connected on both shots for a 64-61 lead and Cieplicki was forced to heave a 3-pointer that fell short at the buzzer.

The Great Danes, who held UVM to 32.8-percent shooting overall, led 46-41 with 6:50 to play on a pair of free throws by Iati, who did all of his scoring in the final period. But Vermont (12-11, AE 7-4) wiped out that deficit with eight unanswered. Mike Trimboli, who had 15 points, nailed a three-pointer in that run. Marqus Blakely came up with a steal and slam dunk for a 49-46 advantage.

UAlbany would catch the Catamounts at 50-all on a reverse slam dunk on the right baseline by Lillis, who added eight rebounds and six assists. UVM's Timothy McCrory made two free throws to put his team back ahead and set up the dramatic ending. Blakely, a 6'5" sophomore, finished with 18 points and 16 rebounds, his tenth double-double of the season. The Catamounts slid back into a tie for second place in the league standings with Hartford.

"We are definitely the Jekyll and Hyde of the America East,” said UAlbany head coach Will Brown, whose team won at Vermont in regular-season play for the first time. “When we play with energy we are capable of beating anyone. I am proud of our defensive effort. We mixed up the defenses and that seemed to bother Vermont. Marqus Blakely is the best athlete we play against. We crowded and doubled to keep him off balance."

Both teams got off to a slow start offensively in the opening half. UAlbany led 16-12when Ambrose converted a fastbreak layup. The Catamounts, who shot 31 percent from the field before the break, drew even at 18 apiece on Chad Powlovich's basket. UAlbany's Ambrose made back-to-back shots for a 22-18 advantage. But Blakely tipped in Trimboli's missed jumper to tie the contest 22-all at the intermission.

"Defense has been our Achilles heel,” said Lillis, who extended his double-figure, scoring streak to 22 straight. “We have a small margin of error. The coaches did a great job of preparing us for what they run. Tim Ambrose stepped up his game and (Jon) Iati and Brent (Wilson) made some big shots."

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