Tuesday, November 25, 2008

UAlbany Men's Basketball Wins Third In a Row In New York City

New York, N.Y. – Jerel Hastings had a season-high 15 points off the bench to pace three players in double figures in leading UAlbany to its third straight win in a 66-49 non-conference victory over Columbia on Tuesday, Nov. 25 at Levien Gymnasium.

UAlbany (3-2) led 33-26 early in the second half, but then pulled away with 11 of the game’s next 12 points. Brian Connelly, a 6-foot-8 senior, made two free throws and freshman guard Anthony Raffa converted a fastbreak at the start. Raffa later hit a driving bank from left of the lane before Hastings canned a 17-footer in the circle. Connelly split two foul shots for a commanding 44-27 margin.

Tim Ambrose, who had scored 24 in each of his last two outings, was active offensively with his club in the lead. The 6-foot sophomore made a conventional three-point play, a left baseline drive and delivered a slam dunk in transition over the final six minutes. Ambrose’s one-hander off the glass gave the Great Danes a 62-41 cushion with 2:59 remaining.

“I have no complaints,” said UAlbany coach Will Brown, whose team held Columbia to 32.6-percent shooting. “We were sluggish at the start but then we executed and kept the lead. The defense was solid for the most part. Columbia did an outstanding job defensively in the first seven or eight minutes, but I thought we wore them down by playing so many guys.”

The Lions, who were playing their third of five straight home contests, led 13-9 midway through the first half after Joe Bova buried a three-point field goal from the left wing. UAlbany regrouped with seven consecutive markers. Connelly, who recorded season-highs with 11 points and seven rebounds, split a pair of free throws to put his team ahead.

Still leading 16-15, the Great Danes ran off a string of nine unanswered. Hastings, a 6-foot-5 senior, ignited the stretch with a jumper in the circle and a three-point play when he was fouled while making an 18-footer. Jimmie Covington and Connelly each sank two foul shots to complete the run.

Hastings, who scored 13 in the opening period and reached double figures for the first time since Feb. 20th last year, later scored in the lane and drilled two from the stripe as his team took a 31-22 lead to the locker room. The Great Danes held Columbia to 29 percent from the floor, on 7-of-24 attempts, in the half and forced nine turnovers.

"I came ready to be aggressive this game,” explained Hastings, who made 6-of-8 from the field and grabbed four rebounds in 17 minutes. (After last game) the coaches told me to look for my shot and don't be passive. We are our own biggest opponents right now - we have to cut down on the turnovers."

The Great Danes countered their shooting woes (39 percent) and 17 turnovers by making 28 of 32 from the foul line. Ambrose was the third UAlbany player in twin figures with 11 of his 13 points after halftime. Columbia (2-3) had no one in double digits, as Noruwa Agho had eight points as a reserve. Patrick Foley, the team’s leading-scorer at 13.2 points per game, was held to six.

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