Sunday, February 22, 2009

University of Albany Men's Basketball Records 80-69 America East Conference Win Against Maine on Senior Day - UAlbany Sports

Courtesy: UAlbany Sports Information

Albany, N.Y. – Tim Ambrose scored 27 points and Jerel Hastings added his first career double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, as UAlbany halted a five-game losing streak with an 80-69 America East Conference victory over Maine on Sunday, Feb. 22 at SEFCU Arena.

Maine (9-18, AE 4-10) reversed a seven-point deficit early in the second half to go back in front. Sean McNally, a 6-foot-7, 250-pound sophomore who had 15 points and eight rebounds, put his team ahead, 50-48, with a three-point field goal from left of the key. Troy Barnies, who scored 15 off the bench, later gave his club a four-point cushion when he connected in the lane.

UAlbany (14-13, AE 6-8) regrouped with 12 unanswered. Jimmie Covington, a 6-foot-7 senior, tied the contest at 56 apiece with two foul shots, before Ambrose drilled a three-pointer from the left corner as his team regained the lead. The 6-foot sophomore later drove to the basket to set up Brian Connelly for a basket, and hit a one-hander on the left baseline. Connelly split a pair of free throws for a 64-56 advantage. Ambrose, who had 20-plus points for the seventh time this season, added four rebounds, four assists and four steals to his scoring total.

The Great Danes, who shot 53.8 percent in the final period, would rattle off a string of eight straight points to build their lead to double figures. Hastings, a Dallas, Texas native who was one of three seniors playing in his final regular-season home game, made a 16-foot baseline jumper and delivered a slam dunk on an inside cut. Brett Gifford sank two free throws for a 72-58 cushion with 3:53 to play.

“The intensity from practice finally carried over to the floor,” said UAlbany coach Will Brown, whose team committed a season-low six turnovers. “The team responded to the challenge they were presented and I am happy that the seniors leave on a positive note. This is the first time that Jerel’s mother has an opportunity to see him play here.”

The Black Bears, who won this year’s first meeting with UAlbany on Jan. 17 by a 72-61 score, broke free in a first half that featured five lead changes and three ties. Maine led 26-23, but then scored six of the game’s next eight points. Freshman Gerald McLemore, who had 11 of his 14 points in the period, buried a 3-pointer and canned a 15-foot jumper on the left baseline. Barnies later followed Mark Socoby’s missed runner and his team had a 34-25 advantage.

The Great Danes, who helped end their longest loss skein since December 2005 by grabbing 17 offensive rebounds, came back 10 straight points to take a 35-34 edge to the locker room. Hastings, who made 6-of-9 from the field and 7-of-8 from the line, hit a baseline shot and had a slam dunk on an offensive board in that span. Mike Johnson made a three-point field goal to draw his team even, before Covington split two free throws with less than one seconds left in the half.

“I was nervous before the game and shed a tear (during the pre-game ceremony),” said Hastings, who scored in twin figures in consecutive games for the first time in a UAlbany uniform. “My coaches have been asking me to more aggressive and I played with energy. We have been focusing on rebounding and crashing the glass.”

Junior Bernal had 16 points, six rebounds and four steals for the Black Bears, who have dropped seven of their last eight outings. Connelly, a 6-foot-8 senior, scored in twin figures for the 12th time this season with 15 points.

“I don’t know if I am happy as a senior or just happy to get a win period,” offered Connelly, whose squad moved into a tie for fifth place in the conference standings. “I think our energy was the difference. This is the kind of effort that can start moving us up the hill.”

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