VESTAL, N.Y.-- Junior forward Blagoj Janev (Sydney, Australia) scored 12 points and freshman guard Tyrece Gibbs (Brockton, Mass.) added 10, but it was not enough as No. 5 UNH was defeated in the America East men's basketball tournament semifinals by No. 1 seeded Albany, 67-54, Saturday afternoon.
The Wildcats, who finish the season with a 12-17 overall record, were flying high after defeating No 4 Hartford in the quarterfinals, however, Albany scored the first basket of the game and never looked back.
The Great Danes, who improved to 20-10 on the season, will now move on to host the America East Championship game in Albany vs. No. 6 Vermont on Sat., March 11. The game will be shown live at noon on ESPN 2.
Albany jumped out to an early 10-point lead (17-7) with 11:37 to play in the opening stanza and led by as many as 11 points before heading to the lockerroom with a 31-25 halftime lead. But the Great Danes took control early in the second half, opening up their biggest lead of the game (20 points) to make the score 56-36 with 8:40 to play in the game.
UNH fought back to within 10 points (58-48) with 5:16 left on the clock, but Albany responded again to open up a 16-point lead (67-51) with just 1:50 to play in the contest.
Leading the way for the Great Danes was Brent Wilson, who poured in a game-high 16 points. Albany outrebounded UNH 31-25 and shot 49 percent from the floor (24-49) as compared to a mark of 25.7 percent by the Wildcats (15-42).
Despite the loss, it was a good showing for UNH and first-year head coach Bill Herrion, as they advanced the Wildcats to the America East semifinals for the fifth time in conference history and for the first time in 11 years.
One exciting aspect of the contest was that UNH and Albany were both playing for the opportunity to host the America East championship game at their home arena. If the Wildcats had won, they would have been the higher seed in an upset special matchup vs. No. 6 Vermont at Lundholm Gymnasium.