Vermont rallied from nine points down in the second half with less than nine minutes to go to defeat the Albany Great Danes 56-53 in the America East Championship game Saturday afternoon. Despite several opportunities, the Great Danes managed only 1 more point, a free throw by David Nichols with 0.3 seconds remaining.
"They've got a great streak going", Albany coach Will Brown said of Vermont.
"Without David Nichols, we are not in this [title game] right now", Brown said.
Brown, a flawless 5-0 in America East title games heading into Saturday morning, and his team said they expected to win, even though Vermont has been the clear class of the conference. Lamb also led all players with 10 rebounds.
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Anthony Lamb poured in a game high 24 points and snared six pulls on 9-14 from the floor with Payton Henson netting 14 points on 4-8 while Dre Wills and Trae Bell-Haynes tossed in 12 and nine points.
Anthony Lamb became the first freshman to ever earn Reggie Lewis Most Outstanding Player honors after posting a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The Catamounts, however, stepped up down the stretch, out-scoring the Great Danes 18-6 in the last eight minutes.
"We wanted to get to that last media timeout in striking distance, put the pressure on them, and I thought we did that", Albany coach Will Brown said. "It was another good game against Vermont where we played good defense".
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The game was a defensive slog the next couple of minutes. We won the rebounding battle. He would later hit another 3 - the two shots would be his only points on the day - to complete a 10-1 run and tie the game at 48 with 4:37 left. "The game came down to a possession".
Vermont: The Catamounts have so far had the best season in the program's history by setting school records for wins in a season (29) and consecutive victories (21).
Albany: The Great Danes had been 5-for-5 in America East championships, including three victories over Vermont.
It took a little extra work, but the Vermont Catamounts are on their way to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012.
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Brown said he will discuss with the UAlbany administration whether to continue the season if the team is offered a berth in one of the lower-tiered postseason tournaments.