Peter Hooley scored a game-high 26 points, 22 in the first half, to lead the No. 4-seeded Albany Great Danes to a 67-58 victory over No. 1 Vermont in the America East Men's Basketball Semifinals at SEFCU Arena on the campus of the University at Albany.
Vermont moves to 22-10 and suffers its first loss in 12 games. Albany moves to 17-14 on the year and advances to the America East Championship game for the second straight season.
The Catamounts have earned an automatic bid to the NIT after winning the America East Regular Season Title. UVM will wait to see who it plays when the bracket is announced on March 16. Vermont will be making its third NIT appearance in program history and sixth straight postseason appearance.
Hooley, who poured in a career-high 30 points in Albany victory over UMBC in the quarterfinals, started the game with a 3-pointer and the Great Danes opened up a 15-5 lead with 12:24 remaining in the first half.
Vermont climbed back within eight, 22-14, on a 3-pointer from Clancy Rugg at the 5:32 mark, but Albany out scored the Catamounts 13-5 to close the half and took a 35-19 lead into the break.
Albany was strong on the boards in the first 20 minutes, out rebounding Vermont 28-16 and shot 35.5 percent from floor. The Catamounts struggled offensively shooting 29.6 percent in the opening half.
Sam Rowley opened the second half with six straight points for the Great Danes as they pushed their lead to 19, 42-23, with 16:17 remaining.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Candon Rusin sparked a 10-0 run and a layup by Luke Apfeld sliced the lead to single digits, 42-33, with 11:51 remaining in the game. Albany answered with an 11-4 spurt to push its lead back to 16 with exactly six minutes remaining.
Vermont rallied again cutting the lead to nine on a layup by Sandro Carissimo with 2:37 left. The Catamounts fouled in the remaining 1:30 to try to extend the game and a 3-pointer by Voelkel made the score 61-53 with 42 seconds remaining, but UVM could not comeback for the victory.
Clancy Rugg paced Vermont with 13 points and nine rebounds, while Apfeld added 13 points in 19 minutes off the bench.
Albany shot 50 percent from the floor in the second half and 40.8 percent for the game. Vermont bounced back from its firs half performance to shoot 46.4 percent from the field in the final 20 minutes and finished the game shooting 38.2 percent from the floor. Albany was also aided by a 22-31 effort from the line, while Vermont went 7-for-13 in the game.
The Great Danes, the tournament hosts for the second straight season, have taken down the No. 1 seed in the America East Tournament for the second straight year. Last year they upset Stony Brook to advance to the title game, again as the No. 4 seed.
Courtesy: Vermont Athletics
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