The Great Danes are headed back to the NCAA Tournament after winning in one of the wildest fashions you’ll all month.
And given the month, that’s saying something.
Albany’s Peter Hooley hit a 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds remaining to lift the Great Danes over Stony Brook 51-50 in the America East championship on Saturday.
It was the first 3-point shot Albany hit.
The top-seeded Dogs squeaked past a Stony Brook team that’s made the title game or won the America East’s regular-season championship in the past six years. The Seawolves come up just short once more, and that is the heartbreaking side of this month, of these small-league conference tournaments. This marks the second straight season the ‘Wolves have fallen in the AE title game to UAlbany. Stony Brook is jinxed, and this is just an unreal way to lose.
For Albany, a return trip to the NCAAs for the third straight season and the program’s fifth overall. The Great Danes have looked good this year, and in a conference that normally sees its representative as a 15 or 16 seed, this team should almost surely find itself on the 14 line.
Player to Watch: Why not Peter Hooley? His story is remarkable. Australian-born, Hooley left the team for a short time this season to fly back home and be with his mother, who died at the end of January following a battle with cancer. So, yeah, Peter Hooley is certainly “player to watch.”
Here he was after the game.
Emotional moment after Hooley hits game-winner to send UAlbany to third straight NCAA tourney. Lost his mom this season. pic.twitter.com/YOOXidSreg
— Ian Pickus (@IanPickus) March 14, 2015
- Record: 24-8 overall, 15-1 in the America East
- Most recent tournament appearance: 2014 (lost to Florida in the Round of 64 as a No. 16 seed)
- Jerry Palm predicts: 14 seed
- RPI: 107
- KenPom ranking: 128
- Sagarin ranking: 134
- Best wins: at Yale, at Vermont, at Stony Brook, at NJIT
- Notable stat: 37.9. That’s the percentage of points Albany’s opponents have scored off 3-pointers this season. You might be wondering if that’s a lot or not. It is. The third-highest rate in the country/third-worst rate. The Great Danes are prone to be picked off if a team gets hot from deep. It’s certainly possible. Albany will have to hope it gets lucky in keeping its opponent under 35 percent from 3-point range in the Round of 64.
- Closing quip: Will Brown and Albany’s claim to fame in many people’s eyes was the 2006 NCAA Tournament. That season, UAlbany was a No. 16 seed — and led No. 1 UConn in the second half. It was an enrapturing game. The Huskies pulled away in the end, winning 72-59. But this team is better than that year’s group. It’s lost just one game since the calendar turned to 2015, and with Sam Rowley, Hooley and Evan Singletary (who can and will launch from deep), it’s hard to see Albany not at least keeping its game close. The Danes like to play close and will grind it away against their opponent.