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Men's basketball win's First Conference Title

Dane Pound

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Baltimore, Md. - Sophomore guard Jon Iati had 20 of his career-high 29 points in the first half in leading UAlbany to a 76-61 America East Conference victory over UMBC on Sunday, Feb. 26 at Retriever Athletic Center. The Great Danes clinched their first-ever America East regular season title and will be the top seed for next week's postseason tournament.

     UAlbany (18-10, AE 13-3) reversed an early 5-4 deficit with 10 of the game's next 12 points. Iati made the first of a career-best six 3-point field goals to put his team ahead and finished off that run with a steal and layup. He canned four long-range jumpers in the opening period, as his team took a 35-26 margin to the locker room.

     The Great Danes, who have won eight of their last 10 contests, still led 44-37 early in the second half but then pulled away with a 12-5 scoring run. Lucious Jordan, who had all 13 of his points after halftime, sank a three-pointer from the top of the arc to begin that outburst. Kirsten Zoellner, a 7-foot-1 senior, added a pair of baskets before Brent Wilson's three-pointer gave his club a 56-42 advantage with 9:39 remaining.

     "We talked about winning the regular season all week," commented Jordan, who added seven rebounds. "This is a great accomplishment for our team, but now we need to move on to the next goal. This definitely gives us momentum and confidence. We just need to continue to do the little things in practice this week."

John Zito, one of two seniors playing in his final home game, led UMBC (9-18, AE 5-11) with 16 points and six rebounds. Jerrell Dinkins and Chris Pugh each had 10 points for the Retrievers, who came into the game with an 8-3 home record.

     "I just had one of those days where everything is dropping," said Iati, who made 8-of-12 from the field and 7-of-8 from the line in reaching twin figures for the first time since Dec. 28. "I felt comfortable playing out there and when Coach (Brown) put me in early, that showed he had confidence in me."

     Wilson and Zoellner each scored in double figures for the Great Danes with 11 points apiece. Jamar Wilson finished with nine points and five assists. The Great Danes, as the top seed, will play in the America East quarterfinal round on Saturday, March 4 at 6 p.m.

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