Jacob Iati scored eight points in the final 2:36 and John Puk sank two free throws with 15 seconds remaining in the game to lift the Albany Great Danes to a 53-49 win over Vermont in the 2013 America East Men's Basketball Championship Game before a sellout crowd at Patrick Gymnasium.
With the victory, Albany moves to 24-10 and secures the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Catamounts fall to 21-11 on the year.
Vermont trailed by five with 8:53 left in the contest, but a dunk by Ethan O'Day sparked a 10-2 run to shove the Catamounts in front, 45-43, with 2:56 remaining. Junior Sandro Carissimo fueled the UVM rally, scoring six straight points at the end, to give Vermont the lead for the first time since the eight minute mark of the first half.
Iati answered with back-to-back 3-pointers to push Albany back in front, 49-45 with 1:35 left. Luke Apfeld converted a layup with 26 seconds left to slice the lead to two, but Iati added a pair of free throws with 20 ticks on the clock to make the score 51-47 in favor of the Great Danes.
Trey Blue converted a layup with 15 seconds left, but Puk converted both free throws to seal the win for the Great Danes and give Albany its third America East title in program history.
Vermont jumped out 10-0 to start the game, but then went scoreless for the next eight minutes, allowing Albany to climb all the way back and take an 11-10 lead with 12:26 remaining in the half.
Clancy Rugg finally ended the drought with four straight points and pushed UVM to a 14-11 advantage with 9:09 remaining. The Great Danes responded with a 17-4 run to close the half and took a 28-20 lead into the locker room.
Mike Black, the America East Most Outstanding Player, added a game-high 14 points and Luke Devlin came off the bench to chip in 12 points and five rebounds for the Great Danes.
Albany finished the game shooting 48.8 percent from the floor, and converted 14 Vermont turnovers into 18 points. The Great Danes out scored UVM 27-9 in bench points in the contest.
Blue and Rugg each scored 10 points to pace the Catamounts. Rugg added six rebounds and Ethan O'Day, who was named to the All-Championship Team, added nine points and four rebounds.
Vermont finished the game shooting 40.4 percent from the field and went 1-for-14 from 3-point range. UVM out rebounded the Great Danes 37-21 overall and 16-3 on the offensive glass.
The Catamounts will wait to see if they are invited to the CBI or CIT postseason tournaments after the selections of the NCAA and NIT fields have been made.
Courtesy: UVM Athletics
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