SEATTLE (AP) — During their final timeout and 7 seconds remaining, Mike Black leaned in to Albany coach Will Brown with simple instructions: Don’t call a play. Don’t get tricky.
“Just get the ball inbounds … I’ll make sure we walk out of here with a victory,” Black told his coach.
With a quick first step and some acrobatic maneuvering in the air, Black delivered on his promise and gave Albany the biggest victory in program history.
Black blew past C.J. Wilcox and scored on a driving layup with 3.7 seconds left, and Albany stunned defending Pac-12 regular season champion Washington 63-62 on Tuesday night.
Trailing by eight points midway through the second half, Albany didn’t cave like many do playing power conference opponents. They showed more poise, more resiliency than the more talented Huskies and made every important play in the closing minutes.
“Usually when big-time high majors make a run, that’s when they go from a 9-0 run to an 18-0 run and the game is over,” Black said. “I just told my guys … just to keep our composure and keep poised and that’s what we did.”
Black’s driving basket capped a 22-point night just two days after he scored 20 at Ohio State, but that wasn’t the only big shot.
Peter Hooley’s only field goal of the game, a 3-pointer from the wing, with 33 seconds left gave Albany a 61-60 lead. Before those shots John Puk twice scored going to the rim, and Sam Howley scored with 1 second on the shot clock off an inbound pass.
The breaks may have gone the way of Albany, but the Great Danes were more than deserving of the victory.
“Even though we beat a big time team, we can’t just be happy with this one,” Black said.
Jacob Iati hit six 3-pointers and added 20 for Albany. The Danes only made the move to Division I in 2000, and their biggest wins to date came during the 2006-07 season when they won at Utah and St. Bonaventure.
Even though they’ve made the NCAA tournament, from a one-game standpoint, Tuesday night topped them all.
“This is the biggest individual win,” Brown said. “They’re the defending Pac-12 champions. They don’t lose much in this building. They’re very talented and they’re bigger and more athletic than us at every position.”
Abdul Gaddy led the Huskies with 16 points and Aziz N’Diaye added 13 but was held to just one point in the second half. The game was played at Albany’s pace and the Huskies could never get the tempo they wanted.
It didn’t help that Washington missed 11 free throws and was just 3 of 12 from 3-point range. Wilcox didn’t make his first 3-pointer until there was 1:39 left and finished with 11 points.
It was just the second non-conference loss at home for the Huskies since the 2007-08 season. Washington lost last season to South Dakota State, one of the soft losses that eventually kept the Huskies out of the NCAA tournament despite winning the regular season conference title.
Coach Lorenzo Romar took full responsibility for this loss and hoped Albany doesn’t become the thorn that comes back to sting the Huskies later.
“If we let this turn in to two or three (losses), yes we will. If we go on from here and not stub our toe again, then lesson learned early in the year,” Romar said. “If this is a re-occurring theme then it would be a big blow.”
Gaddy gave Washington a 62-61 lead when he rebounded N’Diaye’s missed free throw and scored in the lane with 16.5 seconds left. After using its final timeout, Albany got the ball to Black at the top of the key and he quickly darted past Wilcox and was able to score on a scooping right-handed layup to give the Danes (2-1) the lead.
“I said we’re getting Mike the ball at the top of the key and getting the hell out of the way, and Mike is going to bring us home with a win,” Brown said.
Gaddy got off a desperation 30-footer that hit the side of the rim and the Huskies (1-1) were handed a potentially crippling loss with two big games coming up against Seton Hall and possibly Ohio State.
Washington played all but the first 90 seconds without starting guard Scott Suggs after he caught an elbow from Black and crumpled to the court with a concussion. Suggs was on the floor for a few minutes, got up very slowly and was noticeably unstable. He walked off the court with two trainers at his side and straight to the Huskies locker room.
Albany was playing its third game in six days from one side of the country to the other. They opened with a win over Duquesne then lost at No. 4 Ohio State on Sunday.
And there wasn’t going to be much time to savor the win. The Danes were on a plane back to the East Coast early Wednesday morning.
“I can’t wait to get home tomorrow and lay in my bed,” Black said.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.