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Men's Basketball Edges Albany; Will Compete at Binghamton for America East Conference Title on Saturday, March 14
Albany, N.Y.—Senior guard Jay Greene (Whitehall, Pa.) scored 29 points, leading sixth-seeded UMBC to a 64-58 win over host Albany in the America East Conference semifinals, propelling the Retrievers to their second consecutive league championship game.
UMBC (15-16), the defending tournament champions, will play top-seeded Binghamton (22-8) at the BU Events Center on Saturday, March 14 at 11:00 a.m. The Retrievers are the second sixth-seeded team in league history to make the finals—Vermont did so in 2006 before falling to Albany.
After missing all eight field goal attempts in UMBC’s quarterfinal win over third-seeded Boston University yesterday, Greene hit five-of-nine from behind the arc and 10 of 12 from the free throw line. He added six assists and three steals in 40 minutes.
“I tried to be aggressive and my shot felt a lot better,” Greene said. “My teammates and coaching staff remained confident in my ability to make plays. If scoring is what it takes to win, that’s what I’ll do.”
UMBC led for most of the second half, but Albany closed to within 56-54 on a Brian Connelly free throw with 2:26 remaining. Greene hit two free throws after being fouled on a drive to the basket, then buried a step-back three-pointer to put the visitors up, 61-54 with 1:36 remaining.
But Albany fought back and had two chances to tie after Tim Ambrose closed the gap to 61-58 on two short range shots with 47 seconds remaining. UMBC had committed only eight turnovers in the first 84 minutes of tournament play, suffered give-aways on three consecutive possessions. UA reserve guard Louis Barraza had a chance to tie the game, but his long right wing three-pointer was short with 22 seconds left and Greene sealed the win by hitting three of four free throws in the final 17 ticks.
Senior forward Darryl Proctor (District Heights, Md.) added 15 points and a team high eight rebounds.
Randy Monroe’s teams have won five straight tournament games and the Retriever mentor is now 8-4 in six years of conference tourney play.
“Those guys (Proctor and Greene) have taken me on a fantastic ride,” Monroe said. “They just refuse to lose.”
The Retrievers fell behind, 16-5, to start the game, as Proctor’s jumper with 12:55 left in the half was the first field goal of the game for UMBC. Sparked by a trio of 3-point field goals by Greene, UMBC made its comeback, erasing the deficit and taking the lead for the first time on two free throws by the senior guard with 4:20 to play. A driving layup by Proctor stretched the advantage to 30-22 with 1:24 to play in the stanza before Albany’s Tim Ambrose hit a short jumper with 1:03 to close the first half scoring.
Albany took its lone lead of the second half on a three-pointer by Ambrose with 9:11 remaining, to give the hosts a 45-44 lead, but UMBC responded with a 10-2 run to grab a 54-46 advantage with 6:04 to play.
Ambrose led the Great Danes with 21 points and forward Will Harris added 14.
Greene’s previous career high was 36 points vs. New Hampshire on Feb. 10 in an 81-76 UMBC victory.