Albany, N.Y. – Albany senior center John Puk converted a free throw with 0.4 seconds left to give the host Great Danes a 73-72 double overtime victory over a courageous UMBC squad at SEFCU Arena.
UMBC appeared to have the final possession of the second overtime as they had the ball with 35.7 remaining. Senior forward Chase Plummer's (Plainfield, N.J./St. Patrick) trey with 4.3 seconds remaining was a little strong and sophomore forward Malik Garner was charged with fouling Puk on the rebound battle with 0.4 seconds remaining.
After Puk hit the first of two free throws, UA was called for a lane violation as they attempted to miss the second shot on purpose. UMBC ran a final play, where America East Player of the Game Rodney Elliott (Baltimore, Md./John Carroll) set a screen in the middle of the floor for junior forward Devarick Houston (Jonesboro, Ga./Mays). On the play, Elliott was knocked to the floor and Plummer's long distance pass was jarred loose from Houston as the clock expired.
Three Retrievers were brilliant in the effort versus the defending conference champions. Elliott scored 22 points in 46 minutes of action, while Houston and freshman guard Bryan Harris (Oxon Hill, Md./Southern) scored career highs. Houston netted 19 points and added a team-best seven rebounds and six blocked shots, while Harris added 18 points.
The epic battle featured 16 lead changes and 15 ties and Albany's largest lead of the night was four points.
The end of regulation and overtime saw the hosts rally to knot the score and send the game to extra periods. In regulation, Elliott had extended UMBC's advantage to 61-58 on a foul line jumper with 37 seconds left. But UA guard Peter Hooley capped his brilliant second half by draining a left wing trey and with 21 seconds left and sending the contest to overtime.
Harris gave UMBC a 69-67 lead, hitting a rare pair of Retriever free throw attempts with 49 seconds left. But Great Dane forward Sam Rowley hit a driving layup with 31 seconds to play and send the contest to a second extra frame knotted at 69-all.
In the deciding extra period, Elliott tied the game at 72-all with 1:10 to play, by hitting one of two free throws, setting up the bizarre final sequence.
Elliott hit 8-of-14 shots from the floor and 4-of-7 from behind the arc and extended his double figures scoring streak to eight straight. Houston was 7-of-11, including 3-of-4 from behind the arc in 44 minutes of action.
Both teams struggled from the floor in overtime, as UMBC made just 3-of-12 shots, but Albany converted just 1-of-7. Ten of Albany's 12 overtime points came from the charity stripe.
UMBC (4-11, 0-2 America East) hit 38.8 percent from the field for the game (26-of-67), but did drain 10-of-27 (37 percent) from behind the arc. Albany (8-7, 2-0) converted four fewer field goals (22) and treys (6), but converted 23-of-27 from the free throw line. The Retrievers sunk 10 of 13 attempts in 50 minutes of action.
After falling behind 6-2, UMBC shocked the host Great Danes with an 11-0 run and took a 13-6 lead on a Harris field goal with 11:11 to play in the first half. The Retrievers maintained the advantage for most of the stanza, but Albany ended the half on a 7-2 run and took a narrow 27-26 lead into the break.
A pair of Harris free throws gave the Retrievers a six-point advantage at 48-42 with 8:36 to play, but a subsequent 7-0 Great Dane surge restored a lead for the hosts with 5:47 remaining.
Neither team had more than a three-point advantage in the final 18 minutes of action.
UMBC returns to action at home on Saturday when they host Maine at 3:30 p.m.