The start of the America East tournament was defined by a major stunner in Albany as the Hartford Hawks dethroned the three-time tournament champion Great Danes.
While Vermont skated by Maine, top-seeded Stony Brook got a fight from eight-seed UMBC but were able to pull away late. In the final game, UNH was able to survive a tight contest against Binghamton as three of the top four seeds advanced to the semifinals.
Here is a game-by-game recap of Wednesday’s action around the America East Tournament:
Stony Brook 86, UMBC 76
Despite a stiff challenge from the 8th seeded Retrievers, Stony Brook held serve at home with a double digit victory. Regardless of the final score, UMBC did give the Seawolves a scare. Stony Brook held just a one point lead at the final media timeout with 3:27 remaining, but closed the game on a 14-5 run.
Jameel Warney picked up his 57th career double double, and needed just 20 minutes to do it. The Seawolves’ senior finished the first half with 15 points and 13 rebounds and ended the game with 27 points and 23 rebounds, including 10 offensive boards alone.
In all, four Seawolves finished in double figures. Carson Puriefoy contributed 18 points and five assists, Lucas Woodhouse shot 5-for-6 from behind the arc en route to 17 points, and Ahmad Walker added 13 points and four assists.
UMBC was led by Will Darley, who knocked down eight of the Retrievers’ 11 three-pointers on the evening, finishing with 32 points. Jairus Lyles was the only other Retriever in double-figures, but stuffed the stat sheet with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists.
Hartford 68, Albany 59
Hartford stunned all viewers Wednesday night with what may prove to be one of the biggest upsets of any conference tournament. The Hawks, who picked up just their 10th victory of the year, knocked off three-time defending champion Albany thanks in large part to a stellar offensive first half.
Pancake Thomas led the charge with four three-pointers in the first 20 minutes. Hartford finished the first half 9-for-17 from behind the arc versus Albany’s 2-for-10 mark from long range. The Hawks actually scored more points from three-point range (27) than Albany had total (21) in the first half.
Hartford led by as many as 19 late in the first half and held the lead for nearly 37 of the game’s 40 minutes. Albany cut the deficit to five with just 1:27 remaining, but the Hawks were able to run through the entire shot clock and knock down a three-pointer on their next possession.
Thomas led all scorers with 16 points, while teammates Jalen Ross and George Blagojevic poured in 13 points apiece. Ross added five of the Hawks’ 15 assists.
The Great Danes were led by 13 points from Ray Sanders while Peter Hooley added 11 of his own. Freshman Joe Cremo posted nine points.
Vermont 99, Maine 82
Points-wise, Vermont earned the biggest victory of the night with a 17 point triumph over the Black Bears. The Catamounts, much like Hartford, used a massive offensive outburst in the first half to create a cushion too large to overcome.
Vermont posted a remarkable 58 points in the first half, scoring at a clip of 1.42 points per possession. Cam Ward finished the first frame 5-for-7 from behind the arc on his way to 19 points.
Ward ended up leading five Catamounts in double figures with 24 points. Teammate Ethan O’Day added 21, while Kurt Steidl posted 14 of his own. Ernie Duncan and Trae Bell-Haynes added 11 points each, while Darren Payen and Dre Wills filled out the stat sheet with nine points apiece.
Maine was led by 26 points from Issac Vann while Aaron Calixte added 17 on 3-for-5 shooting from behind the arc. Shaun Lawton contributed nine points for the Black Bears while Devine Eke and Till Gloger posted eight points apiece.
UNH 56, Binghamton 51
In the final game of the night, New Hampshire got the job done with a five point victory over Binghamton, making it three of the top four seeds to advance to the semifinals.
It remained a close affair throughout, with neither team opening up more than a six point lead. The Wildcats played an efficient game, committing just four turnovers while converting the Bearcats’ 11 turnovers into 12 points for themselves.
UNH took a five point lead into the final minute, but a Willie Rodriguez layup cut Binghamton’s deficit to just three with 12 seconds remaining. Following a timeout, Jaleen Smith was able to ice the game for the Wildcats with a pair of free throws with five seconds left.
New Hampshire placed just two players in double figures, but Daniel Dion led all scorers with 23 points. Tanner Leissner earned a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Smith finished with eight points.
Binghamton placed three players in double figures, led by 17 points from Rodriguez. Timmy Rose filled the stat sheet with 15 points, eight rebounds, and five assists while Everson Davis added 12 points.
Vincent Simone covers the MAAC, Hofstra, and more for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow him on Twitter @VTSimone.