As the final 3/14 match up left in the NCAA Tournament, Albany and Oklahoma took the court in their first meeting ever. With two other 14 seeds defeating their opponents for the upset, Albany was going to need to step up their game if they were going to join the pack and run with the big dogs.
Going up against the Big 12 player of the year, Buddy Hield, wasn't going to be an easy challenge in the slightest. Going up against one of the better three seeds in the tournament as well? That would prove to be something that even the heroics of Peter Hooley couldn't match.
The Albany Great Danes' run in the America East has been all over the news ever since Hooley hit the last second trey to beat Stony Brook and grant them their tournament berth, as well as shed some light on the hardships he has gone through after losing his mother to cancer not too long ago.
Oklahoma's height and wing span advantage truly showed throughout the game. Layups and jumpers they would normally make against an America East opponent were blocked and deflected against the Sooners. It also gave them the advantage for rebounds and second chance shots with which they had no problem.
TaShawn Thomas and Ryan Spangler were the two that caused Albany the most trouble. Thomas picked up 18 points on 7 of 11 shooting and Spangler pulled down 11 rebounds and also added nine points. Between those two and Hield, the Danes didn't stand a chance.
All but one of the Albany starters made double digits by the end of the game with Hooley leading the pack with 15 points. Evan Singletary and Ray Sanders put in five shots from beyond the arc, most in the second half when the Danes desperately needed it. Sam Rowley rounded out the game with 12 points, six rebounds and three steals in his last game as a Great Dane.
Despite Oklahoma's advantage, they only led by as many as 12 points, and that didn't come until the second half. Albany's grit and true talent definitely showed throughout the game. The one thing Albany's Head Coach Will Brown emphasized in the locker room before the game was not to deviate from how they were playing all year and to most importantly, have fun. While they didn't bring home a win, they once again made it into the history books.
Oklahoma will move on to the next round and play the winner of the Providence vs. Dayton game.