Saturday, March 3, 2012

Great Danes maintain first-half lead over Wildcats to advance

By Shep Hayes/DFP Staff

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – The No. 4 University at Albany Great Danes jumped to an early lead over the No. 5 University of New Hampshire Wildcats, and maintained that lead through the second half to win the second quarterfinal game of the 2012 America East men's basketball tournament.

By the end of the first half, Albany jumped to a nine-point lead, 30-21. In the second half, the great Danes again scored nine more points than the Wildcats, to close out the 63-45 victory. Though the game was tied five times and the lead changed twice, Albany was firmly in control of the game from midway through the first through the end.

The Great Danes went from making 11-of-34 field goal attempts in the first half to a paltry 10-of-24 in the second half. Albany also improved in 3-point territory, shooting 35.4 percent in the first frame and then 50.0 percent in the second. Only three of the Great Danes' 16 free-throw attempts missed the basket in the entire game.

Junior guard Gerardo Suero was the focus of Albany's offense, scoring 24 points grabbing nine total rebounds, and assisting on four other baskets. He led the Great Danes in all of those categories, as well as turnovers, which he had five. Suero shot 8-for-24 from the field, and 3-for-8 from beyond the arc.

Other Albany players also made contributions to the offense. Junior guard Mike Black scored 11 points for the Great Danes and had four assists. Junior center Blake Metclaf had nine rebounds. The Great Danes as a whole had 33 defensive rebounds and 14 offensive rebounds, well above the Wildcats in both areas. Albany had 17 second chance points to none from New Hampshire. In points in the paint, Albany again emerged ahead of UNH, 26-18.

UNH shot poorly throughout the game, making 26.9 percent of its field goals in the first half and 29.0 percent in the second. Beyond the arc, the Wildcats did O.K. in the first, going 4-for-12, but in the second, they made only one of their seven 3-point attempts. Even at the line, UNH could not catch a break, shooting 61.5 percent overall.

Sophomore forward Patrick Konan was the leading scorer with 12 points, followed closely by junior forward Ferg Myrick with 11. Both shot 4-for-11, but Konan made two of his five 3-point shots, while Myrick missed his lone trey. Myrick also sunk one more free throw than Konan.

Senior forward Brian Benson was the leading rebounder in the game, grabbing 13 balls off the glass. Five Wildcats contributed a single assist in the loss. Konan had three turnovers to lead UNH, while Myrick handed the ball away twice.

Albany will advance to face No. 1 Stony Brook University tomorrow in the semifinals. That game will tip-off at 5:02 p.m. and will be televised on ESPN3. Stony Brook held off No. 9 Binghamton University in their quarterfinal game, which was played earlier Saturday.

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