By Mary Paoletti
The 2010 America East Men's Basketball Championship tips off Saturday in Hartford. Here's a look at the quarterfinal match ups at Chase Family Arena. The winners will advance to Sunday night's semifinal round.
SATURDAY, MARCH 6
GAME 1 - NO. 1 STONY BROOK (21-8, 13-3) vs. NO. 8 ALBANY (7-24, 2-14), noon
Regular Season Results
Jan. 24 - at Stony Brook 67, Albany 61: Freshman Marcus Rouse lead SBU scorers with 17 points and sophomore Bryan Dougher's three-pointer broke a 58-all tie with barely a minute left to play. The Seawolves shot 46.3 percent for the game that housed 13 ties and 10 lead changes. Mike Black scored a team-best 15 points for Albany.
Feb. 19 - Stony Brook 68, at Albany 66: Senior Muhammad El-Amin scored the game-winning jumper for SBU with 1.8 seconds remaining. El-Amin scored 11 of his team-high 19 in the second half. Dougher hit three of five triples en route to 11 points. Will Harris led the Danes with 17 points and Scotty McRae scored 16.
The Great Danes aren't just coming off one loss, but a streak of 11 losses in their last 12 road games. At least they generated some offense in Sunday's 85-79 overtime defeat to Hartford; Harris scored 26 points, Logan Aronhalt had 18, Black 14 and Fran Urli 12. Another positive: They managed to play Stony Brook tight twice already this season. This could be the perfect time Albany to finally exploit the Seawolves, as Stony Brook just had its 10-game winning streak snapped decisively by UNH on Sunday. Dougher and El-Amin scored 13 points each for SBU in the loss. The Seawolves can avoid the upset if they take advantage of their efficiency behind the arc and keep Albany off the glass.
GAME 2 - NO. 4 BOSTON UNIVERSITY (17-12, 11-5) vs. NO. 5 HARTFORD (8-21, 6-10) , 2:15 p.m.
Regular Season Results
Jan. 9 - Boston University 84, at Hartford 70: John Holland and Corey Lowe combined for 63 points to lead the Terriers. BU also held the America East's No. 3 scorer, Joe Zeglinski (16.4 ppg), to just one field goal. Morgan Sabia notched 11 points and 11 rebounds for Hartford, while Joel Barkers and Ryan Baker contributed 18 and 12 points, respectively.
Feb. 13 - at Boston University 58, Hartford 55: Sophomore Jake O'Brien nailed a 3-pointer with 5.6 left on the clock to earn the win for BU. O'Brien recorded 16 points and 14 rebounds. Holland posted 11 points, while senior Tyler Morris recorded nine points and five assists. BU shot a season-low 27.9 percent from the field as a team and also lost the rebound battle, 51-43. But the Terriers made 17-for-22 free throws to give themselves the edge. Barkers posted 19 points and 13 rebounds for Hartford, while Zeglinski contributed 10 points and 12 boards. UH shot a dismal 18-for-57 from the field and committed 15 turnovers to BU's nine.
If BU is still riding the momentum that carried it through Saturday's 20-point demolition of Maine, then Hartford could be in trouble. John Holland, the league's most potent scoring threat (19.9 ppg) led a vicious BU attack with 23 points and seven rebounds. Seniors Tyler Morris, Corey Lowe and Carlos Strong combined for 34 points and 11 assists. The win was the fourth straight and sixth in their last seven games for the Terriers. Conversely, the Hawks' 85-79 victory over Albany on Sunday was only their first in six games. Milton Burton scored a career-high 24 points to lead Hartford. Zeglinski and Sabia added 19 points each. Hartford will need this kind of scoring to keep up with the Terriers. The Hawks already proved that they could compete with BU in February, as their upset bid was only buried by some last-second heroics by Jake O'Brien. Hartford will need to avoid sending Boston U to the charity stripe while elevating its own free throw efficiency, a la the Albany game (16-for-20 for 80 percent).
GAME 3 - NO. 2 VERMONT (22-9, 12-4) vs. NO. 7 MARYLAND-BALTIMORE COUNTY (4-25, 3-13), 6:05 p.m.
Regular Season Results
Jan. 2 - Vermont 73, at UMCB 58: Senior Marqus Blakely had 17 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists to lead Vermont. Three other Cats reached double figures; Senior Maurice Joseph with 16 points, junior Evan Fjeld with 13 points and nine rebounds, and sophomore Garvey Young had 11. Fjeld also set a new career-high for blocks with four. Vermont shot 48.1 percent from the floor for the game, while limiting the Retrievers to 37.7 percent. The Cats also controlled the boards with a 42-31 edge. Just two Retriever's finished the game in double figures. Robbie Jackson and Chauncey Gilliam led UMBC with 15 and 13 points, respectively.
Feb. 5 - at Vermont 79, UMBC 60: Young led UVM with 20 points, going 6-for-13 from the floor and 3-for-5 from three, and 10 rebounds. Blakely and Joseph each added 13 points and Fjeld chipped in with 11. Vermont never trailed in the game. Chris De La Rosa scored 18 for the Retrievers, while Gilliam chipped in with 15. UMBC shot just 33.3 percent in the second half.
UVM holds a 13-4 edge in the all-time series which includes a sweep in each of the last two seasons. It's likely that Vermont will add to that win column this weekend. The Retrievers simply don't have an answer for Marqus Blakely, a versatile big man who sees UMBC as an opportunity to rack up stats in five columns. Blakely enters the tournament looking consistent and confident, having just punished Binghamton with 17 points, three blocked shots, and two steals in Vermont's 78-69 regular season finale on Sunday. In this year's meetings between these two teams UMBC did cut Vermonts lead at times and threaten within two possessions. It will be De La Rosa's job to spark the scoring by connecting with Gilliam and Jackson. Unfortunately, if those two aren't hitting De La Rosa is going to have to create his own offense because the options are quite limited.
GAME 4 - NO. 3 MAINE (19-10, 11-5) vs. NO. 6 NEW HAMPSHIRE (12-16, 6-10), 8:15 p.m.
Regular Season Results
Jan. 18 - Maine 56, at New Hampshire 42: Maine was led by Sean McNally's 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists. The Black Bears fought to gain a 45-35 edge on the glass. Though Maine shot just 35.4 percent, its defense held UNH to an even worse 27.8 percent. New Hampshire was led by Russell Graham who had six points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
Feb. 17 - Maine 72, at UNH 53: Gerald McLemore posted a career-high 30 points to lead all scorers. McLemore totaled 17 points, three rebounds and two steals in the first half. Murphy Burnatowski added eight points, three rebounds and two blocks. The Black Bears shot a red hot 54.5 percent in the first half and also clamped down on defense, limiting the Wildcats to 33.3 percent. The rebounding tallies were even at 15-all.
Maine is enjoying unforeseen success this season. Its No. 3 seeding for the America East Tournament is its highest in a decade. But if the Black Bears were reveling in their conference record, Saturday's defeat by BU might have been a wake-up call. Maine, which boasts the league's best defense (just 61.3 ppg), surrendered its third-highest point total of the season in the 76-56 loss. Gerald McLemore's 15 points marked the only double-digit tally for the Black Bears that day. Meanwhile, the up-and-down Wildcats bagged a huge win on Sunday. Ferg Myrick scored 21 points in the 77-55 victory over America East Conference regular-season champion Stony Brook. The Wildcats hit nine 3-pointers and shot 53.6 percent from the field in the second half to end SBU's 10-game winning streak. The ferocity of the win was tough to comprehend after UNH's 29-point loss to UMBC less than one week earlier. This Wildcat team has lost more games than it has won, yes, but it has also beaten top-tier America East teams and can do so in this tournament.
Mary Paoletti is on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti