Release: January 14, 2009
ALBANY, N.Y. -- In a battle between longtime SUNY rivals and the top two teams in the America East, Albany (11-6, 3-1 AE) held off cold-shooting Binghamton (10-6, 3-1 AE) 72-66 Wednesday night from SEFCU Arena. With the win, the Great Danes moved into a tie with the Bearcats atop the conference standings.
The Bearcats shot just 36% and left at least 15 points at the free throw line, where they converted just 14-of-29 (48%). At one point in the second half, BU missed 11 consecutive foul shots, hampering a run that cut a 10-point deficit to just one.
An 8-0 run pulled BU to within one, 50-49, with 8:43 left, but junior guard D.J. Rivera was called for a charge on a fastbreak layup on the next possession - the fifth charge called on the Bearcats in the game. Shortly thereafter, Albany freshman guard Anthony Raffa took over, scoring 10 straight Great Dane points, including a backbreaking three-pointer as the shot clock expired with 1:40 left, giving UA a 63-55 lead. Raffa wound up with a game-high 21 points.
Senior guard Dwayne Jackson drained four three-pointers in the second half, including two deep bombs in a 10-second span in the final minute to keep BU within striking distance, but the Great Danes sank 9-of-12 free throws in the final 1:18 and BU sealed its fate with two turnovers in the final 17 seconds.
"That was 40 minutes of intense, exciting college basketball," head coach Kevin Broadus said. "Albany withstood everything we threw at them. We fought hard to cut it to three at the end but they hit their shots and were the better team tonight. We gave ourselves problems by missing easy shots in the first half and we need to correct our free throw shooting."
Rivera, first in the America East and 18th in the nation in scoring (21.3 ppg.), scored 16 points to pace three Bearcats in double figures. Jackson netted 14, including 12 in the second half. Junior guard Malik Alvin had 13 points and four assists and senior forward Reggie Fuller chipped in a career-high-tying 15 rebounds, eight points and two blocks.
The Bearcats were ice cold in the first half, misfiring on 15-of-17 to start the game. Albany led 18-10 before BU went on a 9-0 run to take the lead, 19-18. Sophomore guards Chretien Lukusa and Moussa Camara drained back-to-back three-pointers and Rivera added three points on an alley-oop lay-in and a free throw to end the run. But Albany closed out the half on a 17-5 run as the Great Danes hit 6-of-10 to end the period and began to control the boards. Binghamton shot a season-low 23% in the half (7-of-30) and was saddled with a 35-24 deficit at intermission.
Binghamton returns home to host Boston University on Saturday afternoon.
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