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UAlbany Upsets Vermont, Advances To NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament

John Puk
Courtesy UAlbanySports.com

If you had sat down with me before the America East Basketball Tournament kicked off last weekend and told me that UAlbany would have to go through Stony Brook and Vermont to get to the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, I would have said their chances were slim. The odds were stacked against them and history not on their side, but the Great Danes have closed the final chapter of their 2012-13 America East season with a championship trophy and silenced doubters.

For the first time in their last nine attempts, the Great Danes have defeated the Vermont Catamounts 53-49 and head coach Will Brown will go dancing to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the program’s back-to-back runs in 2006 and 2007. In a total team effort, UAlbany was able to bounce back from an early 10-0 deficit in the first three minutes of the game and hold off a late charge from the Catamounts at Patrick Gymnasium in Burlington, Vermont.

Following that early 10-0 deficit, UAlbany would go on a tear the final seventeen minutes, snatching all momentum and somewhat silencing the crowd, as the Great Danes took a 28-20 lead into the locker room at halftime. The team would use two big runs to take that lead at the break, 11-0 and 17-6 respectively. Senior point guard Mike Black led all scorers at halftime with 11 points, shooting 4-of-7 from the floor.

Both teams would swing the momentum back and forth the entire second half, with Vermont holding a 45-43 lead with 3:04 remaining after a Sandro Carissimo layup. But the Great Danes would snatch the lead for good with back-to-back buckets from Jacob Iati, the first pair of three-pointers he made all season against Vermont (0-for-11 in the two regular season meetings) and the first 6 points from Iati in the game.

Trey Blue would make things interesting, with the chance to cut the UAlbany lead to one with 15 seconds left, after getting fouled by Peter Hooley on a made layup. However, Blue would miss the free throw, and following a pair of free throws by big man John Puk, the Great Danes walked away with the 53-49 victory.

UAlbany will enter the NCAA Tournament as America East Tournament champions with a 24-10 overall record, which includes an early-season victory over Washington from the Pac-12 Conference. On the other side, Vermont ends their season with a 21-11 overall record and wondering the next few days about what could have been.

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