Saturday, February 23, 2013

UAlbany tops Fairfield 58-50

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — The University at Albany turned a game that didn’t mean much into a big victory on Saturday afternoon.

The Great Danes picked up their 20th win of the season, besting Fairfield 58-50, in a BracketBusters game at Webster Bank Arena.

UAlbany (20-9) eclipsed its win total of last season, while also cracking the 20-win mark for the first time since the 2006-07 season. It’s only the third time the Great Danes have won 20 or more games at the Division I level, the previous two came in NCAA tournament seasons.

“This group deserves a lot of credit,” said UAlbany coach Will Brown.

The Great Danes got great play from junior John Puk and sophomore Sam Rowley, who combined for 26 points and 11 rebounds.

Puk was especially effective, as he scored five of the first seven points of the second half, as UAlbany extended its lead to double-digits.

“This is probably his best game since (the season-opener against) Duquesne,” Brown said. “He was so active. When he’s active, he’s a different player.”

The Great Danes played their second straight game without redshirt freshman Peter Hooley (concussion), but Gary Johnson played well in his second consecutive start.

The Stags (17-12) played without two starters, freshman Amadou Sidibe and senior Desmond Wade. Derek Needham scored 15 points to lead Fairfield, while Keith Matthews chipped in 11.

UAlbany got just five points from senior guard Mike Black, who also finished with six turnovers. Still, they were able to post a very solid win, one of their best of the year.

“I’m proud of my guys,” Brown said. “I thought we played with great toughness.”

The Great Danes finish with a home game against New Hampshire (Feb. 28) and a road game at Stony Brook (March 3), before they host the conference tournament.

“We want to be feeling good about ourselves when the conference tournament rolls around,” Brown said. “This was a good win for us.”

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