Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tim Ambrose's Last-Second Field Goal Lifts UAlbany to 68-67 Win in Basketball's Home Opener

Courtesy: UAlbany Sports Information

Albany, N.Y. – Tim Ambrose scored 24 points and made a bank shot with 3.8 seconds remaining to lift UAlbany past Central Connecticut State, 68-67, in the Great Danes’ home opener before 3,241 fans on Saturday, Nov. 22 at SEFCU Arena.

Central Connecticut State (0-3) overcame an 18-point deficit in the second half to set up a wild finish. The Blue Devils, who trailed 51-33, reeled off 10 unanswered points to get back into the contest. Aaron Hall hit a slam dunk in transition and Robby Ptacek converted a fastbreak to end that run.

Still trailing 57-49, the visitors put together another string of 10 straight points to go ahead with 4:21 remaining. Ken Horton, a 6-foot-6 sophomore who tallied a career-high 33 points, drilled a 3-pointer from the left corner and sank two foul shots, before Ptacek canned a long-range jumper from the right wing to draw his team even. Horton, who made 11 of 15 from the field and 10 of 11 from the line, put the Blue Devils in front by cutting in the lane for a layup.

The game seesawed in the stretch with four ties until CCSU’s Shemik Thompson scored off a spin move in the lane for a 65-63 lead with 48.1 seconds to play. After UAlbany’s Will Harris missed a layup, Hall was fouled and made two free throws for a four-point advantage.

Ambrose, a 6-foot sophomore, sliced the margin to one when he made a conventional three-point play as Thompson fouled him on a driving layup. Ambrose then stole the inbounds pass but could not convert in the lane. After CCSU put the ball in play with eight seconds left, Ptacek stepped on the sideline against a defensive double-team. All of which set up Ambrose’s winning field goal from left of the lane.

“I just wanted to get to the rim,” said Ambrose, who tied a career-high scoring total and had four assists and three steals. “I think coach knew that I wanted it (the ball). We got up eighteen and got comfortable and didn’t execute. You can’t do that against a good team.”

The Great Danes used a run of nine consecutive points to take an early lead. Harris, a Virginia transfer, had 11 of his 18 points in the opening period en route to a 38-29 halftime advantage. UAlbany (2-2) ripped off nine in a row in the final period to build a 49-31 cushion. Brian Connelly, who had 10 points, put back an offensive rebound to ignite matters. Harris, who also had nine rebounds, made a three-pointer from the left corner following a steal and converted in the lane at the end of that stretch.

“There was a never a doubt that we were going to win,” said Harris, who made 7 of 11 from the floor. “We have a group of strong-minded individuals. We just have to be more focused and work on defense.”

Thompson, last year’s Northeast Conference Rookie of the Year, had 12 points and five assists for the Blue Devils, who lost a heart-breaking 58-57 decision to Colgate in their last outing. Freshman guard Anthony Raffa was the fourth UAlbany player in double figures with 11.

“We fell asleep when we were up eighteen,” said UAlbany coach Will Brown, whose team last posted a one-point win against Vermont last January. “We stood and didn’t attack. Central Connecticut never quit and got back into the game. We will take the win, but we need to get better on defense and learn to communicate."

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