A dribble drive through the heart of the Huskies defense by Albany’s Mike Black produced the game-winning layin with 3.7 seconds left to stun Washington 63-62 Tuesday night at Alaska Airlines Arena. Making matters worse was a head injury to starting guard Scott Suggs, who was elbowed, then kneed in back of the head in the second minute and did not return, suffering a concussion.
Suggs was woozy and had to be helped to the locker room. Suggs missed all of last season with a broken bone in his foot.
“I saw him at halftime,” said coach Lorenzo Romar. “He wanted to come back in. He had a very light headache and remembered what happened. A lot of times with concussions, they can’t remember (the incident). So that was a good sign. Without knowing exactly his condition, I think he’ll be fine.”
Black had a game-high 22 points as the underdog Great Danes from the American East Conference consistently bewildered the Huskies with patient, high-post pick-and-rolls that produced either lay-ins or kick-outs for open threes. Black’s backcourt mate, 5-10 Jon Iati, hit six of 12 treys to finish with 20 points.
The offense was stymied by a 2-3 zone that appeared be the first time any of the Huskies had seen it.
“Our guys were stunned,” Romar said. “But they’ll bounce back, no doubt about it. We can’t let one (loss) turn into two. We did that last year. We can’t let this multiply.”
The Huskies went up 62-61 with 11 seconds left when Abdul Gaddy, who led UW with 16 points, grabbed the rebound after the second of two missed free throws by center Aziz N’Diaye. Gaddy took the ball back to the basket and banked in a five-footer.
After a couple of timeouts, the Great Danes went to Black, a senior from Chicago, who drove the lane and pushed his running one-hander past C.J Wilcox. Gaddy’s 35-footer at the buzzer was off.
The win was the first time Albany bat a top-level team since 2006, and was the first loss this season for a Pac-12 Conference team after 17 non-conference wins.
N’Diaye had 13 points and 11 rebounds, but missed seven of 10 free throws. Wilcox had 11 points but missed nine of 14 from the field. His three-pointer that tied the game at 58 was his one and only of the game.
“Give them all the credit for coming out from Ohio (a loss to Ohio State Sunday) with one day’s rest, and point the finger at me,” Romar said. “We should have been able to defend what they were running.”
The telling stat was that Washington had 15 turnovers and 10 assists, a least a part of that poor ratio due to the absence of Suggs’ senior leadership.
In the first half, the Huskies missed five of eight free throws, all five three-point attempts and had 10 turnovers in a miserable start that ended with Albany up 31-27. The Huskies, frustrated with Albany’s patient pace, were also in foul trouble and lost starting forward Desmond Simmons for several minutes while he had a cut stitched over his right eye.
Opening the second half, Gaddy hit a pair of threes and the Huskies pulled out to an eight-point lead. Albany went to its 2-3 zone and re-took the lead 54-53 inside five minutes. The Huskies, also missing Shawn Kemp Jr., seemed to be disorganized down the stretch while Albany ran precision plays.
“We spent a lot of time (in practice) working against man-to-man defenses,” said Romar. “We worked against zones in the last week and a half, but that’s were they got us.”
Granted the Huskies were without Suggs and Kemp for this game but the America East Conference isn’t known for being able to compete with stronger conferences and Albany lost two starters from last year who combined for 35 ppg. Romar’s teams usually start slow out of the gate but this is a game they should have won.
Romar was the first to admit afterward he had the team unprepared. Back to back timeouts in the last 29 seconds burned his last TOs so they couldn’t set up a play following Black’s layin. Not smart of the new staff.
I grew up watching John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins and then I moved to NY. The first b ball game I saw was Syracuse vs. Georgetown. The way they played was so different – big, strong, tough and muscular – they really pounded each other and there was no comparison to what I had seen in the west. Times change but when I read of the lay up and the concussed Husky I immediately thought of that game in NY.