By Kevin Sweeney
Almost every preseason prediction picked Vermont to win the America East this season.
After tonight, they’re probably trying to change their pick.
Despite losing its top three scorers from last season, Albany went to Penn State and didn’t trail after the 15:49 mark in the first half, taking their opener 87-81 in a campus site game part of the Hall of Fame Tip Off.
It was a slow start for both teams, as the score sat at 6-6 for almost 3 minutes before a Dallas Ennema 3 with 12:54 to go gave the Danes a lead they would never relinquish. Ennema provided a huge boost for the Danes off the bench, posting 20 points and knocking down 4 triples.
Albany began to extend its lead as the first half wore on, closing the opening period on an 8-2 run to take a commanding 41-25 lead into intermission. Penn State really struggled to get much of anything going on offense, with star guard Shep Garner held to just 2 points in the first half. Meanwhile, Albany’s guard duo of Joe Cremo and David Nichols dominated, combining for 27 first half points.
However, things certainly weren’t over. Garner and the Nittany Lions heated up in the second half, cutting into the Great Dane lead as the game headed into its final stretch. However, every PSU push seemed to be met by a clutch bucket by the trio of Nichols, Cremo, and Ennema. The closest the Nittany Lions ever came was within 4 with 2:20 to go on a 3-point play by Garner, but Cremo responded with a clutch baseline floater to take back control for the Danes.
Cremo finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists for the Danes. Garner had 25 points for PSU.
Albany will travel to Cincinnati for a Sunday matchup with the Bearcats, while the Nittany Lions also play Sunday against Duquesne.