Albany edges Vermont for AEC crown
Burlington, VT (Sports Network) – Jamar Wilson scored 22 points and grabbed
seven rebounds to lead the Albany Great Danes to their second straight America
East championship, 60-59, over the top-seeded Vermont Catamounts.
Jason Siggers added 14 points for the second-seeded Great Danes (23-9), who
will advance to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year. Albany also
beat Vermont in last year’s AEC title game and avenged two regular-season
losses to the Catamounts.
Mike Trimboli and Marqus Blakely scored 10 points apiece for the Catamounts
(25-7), who had won 13 straight and 20 of 21 entering the game. Martin Klimes
added nine points and seven rebounds for Vermont, which won three straight AEC
tourney titles from 2003-05.
Trimboli had two chances to win it for Vermont in the final minute, but could
not come through in the clutch. He missed an open three with 36 seconds left,
but Vermont’s Chris Holm slapped the rebound back out to the top of the key,
where Trimboli grabbed the ball and called timeout with 32.4 seconds left.
Trimboli could not find a shot on the following possession and lost control of
the ball at the top of the key. Albany’s Brent Wilson wrestled control away
from Trimboli, and tossed the ball toward the other end of the court as the
buzzer sounded, preserving the win for the Great Danes.
Wilson hit back-to-back jumpers to put Albany ahead 60-56 with 2:03 left. Holm
made one of two free throws with 1:36 to play, and a Kyle Cieplicki layup made
it a one-point game with 1:09 remaining, but that was as close as Vermont
Albany took a six-point lead midway through the second half, but an 8-0
Vermont run, finished by a three-point play by Holm, and a stolen inbounds
pass and layup by Blakely, put the Catamounts up 48-46 with 7:40 left.
A 10-2 Vermont run midway through first half was capped by a Blakely dunk to
give the Catamounts an 18-13 lead.
Vermont did not make another field goal in the first half, though, and Albany
took advantage. The Great Danes ran out on a 14-2 stretch, capped by a Wilson
jumper that pushed the Albany advantage to 27-20 with eight seconds left.
Trimboli made two free throws with two seconds left to cut the Danes lead to
27-22 heading into the break.
This marked only the second time in 13 America East tournament title games
pitting the top two seeds that a second-seeded team won…Vermont made only
11-of-19 free throws (58 percent)…The Catamounts, who entered the game
leading Division I men’s basketball in rebounding margin, at 41 rebounds per
game to 31 boards by opponents, were outrebounded, 33-32.