Albany, Stony Brook Earn MBB Title Game Trips With Semifinal Wins
ALBANY, N.Y. – For the second-straight year, the second and fourth seed will determine the America East men’s basketball title as No. 2 Stony Brook and No. 4 Albany won semifinal contests Sunday at SEFCU Arena on Sunday evening to punch tickets to the championship game. The Great Danes rode a 26-point effort from Peter Hooley to upset top-seeded Vermont, 67-58, in the first semifinal while the Seawolves shot 56 percent from the floor to knock off third-seeded Hartford, 69-64. The two teams will meet at Stony Brook’s Pritchard Gym on Saturday, March 15 at 11:30 a.m. to decide the 2014 champion and NCAA participant.
A hot start sparked by Peter Hooley, who scored 22 of his game-high 26 points in the first half, lifted fourth-seeded Albany to a 67-58 win over top-seeded Vermont in the semifinals of the 2014 America East Men's Basketball Championship at SEFCU Arena Sunday afternoon.
The defending champion Great Danes (17-14) never trailed in the hard-fought rematch of last season's title game and will advance to the title game for the fourth time, all since 2006. Albany will play for its fourth league title since 2006 at second-seeded Stony Brook on, Saturday, March 15 at 11:30 a.m. (ESPN2).
Backed by Hooley, Albany jumped out early and led by double-digits most of the way. Back-to-back three-pointers by Hooley gave the Great Danes an early 13-2 lead before Kurt Steidl answered with a trey for UVM. Hooley hit two more threes as Albany hit nine of its last 16 field goals attempts in the period. They capped the half on a Gary Johnson dunk at the halftime buzzer to take a 35-19 into the locker room. Hooley, who had 30 in Saturday's quarterfinal win, started out six-for-nine from the floor and six-for-seven from the line.
Ethan O'Day opened the second with a put-back, UVM's first second-chance bucket of the game before Sam Rowley finished twice inside, and hit a free throw to put UA up by 19, its biggest lead. The Catamounts bounced right back as Candon Rusin hit back-to-back threes along with two hoops by Luke Apfeld to trim the deficit to nine. Two jumpers by D.J. Evans would stop Vermont's 10-0 run to make it 46-33 with 9:38 left.
Johnson finished inside with six minutes left to push Albany's lead to 53-37 before UVM began to claw back. Two free throws by Apfeld capped a 13-5 run to trim the deficit to eight with two minutes to play before time would run out on the Catamounts. Albany would close out UVM at the line knocking down seven-of-ten from the line in the last minute.
Vermont's defense held Hooley without a field goal in the second half but he hit four big free throws down the stretch. Evans (9 points) and Rowley (7 points, 8 boards), who each did not score in the first 20 minutes, but stepped up after the break to combine for 17. Johnson finished with 17 points, eight in the second half, and had a game-high 13 rebounds.
The Great Danes out-rebounded the Catamounts, 45-30, and had 10 second chance points off 13 offensive boards. Albany shot 41 percent from the floor and 71 percent from the line (22-for-31).
Vermont (22-10), which as America East regular season champion will continue its season in the NIT, was led by 13 points apiece by Apfeld and Clancy Rugg, who also added nine rebounds. Apfeld had all of his after halftime on five-of-eight from the floor in leading the comeback attempt. UVM shot 38 percent for the game, 46 percent after halftime bolstered by six-for-12 from three-point range.
Carson Puriefoy scored 21 points to lead a strong second-half effort as second-seeded Stony Brook held off third-seeded Hartford, 69-64, in the semifinals of the 2014 America East Men's Basketball Championship at SEFCU Arena Sunday evening.
The Seawolves (23-9) reach the title game for the third time, all in the last four years, and will host it for the second time, taking on fourth-seeded Albany Saturday, March 15 at 11:30 a.m. (ESPN2).
Purifoy and Jameel Warney, the 2014 Kevin Roberson America East Player of the Year, each scored eight points after intermission to turn a two-point game into a double-digit lead before the pesky Hawks rallied in the waning moments.
A tightly played first half featured tough defense leading to four ties and six lead changes. Corban Wroe's three-pointer five minutes in gave Hartford an early 14-8 edge. The Seawolves tied it at 17-all three minutes later on a free throw by Purifoy, and took the lead on a jumper by Anthony Jackson. Purifoy scored five more in a 7-2 string to make it 28-21 but Taylor Dyson tallied six in a 10-0 run for the Hawks to regain the lead, 31-28, with 2:30 left. A hoop by Jackson and a three-pointer gave Stony Brook a 33-31 at the break.
Ahmad Walker scored six as Stony Brook took control coming out of halftime with a 15-2 run. Puriefoy's driving layup gave SBU its biggest lead, 57-41, with 10:16 to go. They maintained a double-digit lead for the next six minutes before the gritty Hawks rallied with a 12-0 run of their own.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Yolanzo Moore II and Wroe to cut it to 64-59 with 4:44 left. After another defensive stop, Mark Nwakamma finished inside to make it a three-point game at 3:17. Purifoy stopped the Hawks run with a free throw and Warney on the ensuing trip made the defensive play of the game with a key block on Nwakamma at the low post.
Dave Coley pushed the SBU lead to six with 50 seconds left before Wroe answered with his seventh trey of the game six seconds later. Stony Brook ran the game and shot clocks down before a Purifoy baseline drive iced it.
Wroe equaled his career-high with 21 for Hartford who ends its season at 17-16. He made seven three-pointers in nine attempts, equaling a semifinal record for most treys in a game, and tying for the fifth most. Nwakamma added 16 along with six boards going seven-for-14 from the floor. The Hawks shot 40 percent from the floor for the game and made 10 three-pointers in 28 attempts (37 percent).
In addition to Puriefoy who also was seven-for-10 from the line, Jackson added 14 and Warney had 10 points and a game-high nine boards. Stony Brook out-rebounded Hartford, 33-26, and shot a blazing 56 percent from the floor.