‘Dunk Haven’ Albertus Magnus cruises to GNAC semis

Photo: Ron Waite-
Photo: Ron Waite-

The highlight-a-minute Falcons put on a show against Norwich, moving on to the GNAC semifinals. It was a party in ‘Dunk Haven.’

Written by Jonny Stevens

The Albertus Magnus men’s basketball team completed a dominating performance Tuesday night at the Cosgrove Marcus Messer Athletic Center in New Haven, Conn. as the Falcons beat the Cadets 87-69 in the GNAC Tournament Quarterfinal round.

The Falcons came out on fire out of the gates showing that they were deserving of the number one seed in the GNAC tournament. The Falcons started the game with a 17-0 lead in the first six minutes of play. The run was powered by stifling defense, forcing turnovers, missed shots, and shot clock violations. The high pressure from the Falcons was too much for the Norwich Cadets in the first few minutes of action. The offense for the Falcons was just as impressive as their defense as all five starters had at least two points five minutes into the game. The 17-0 run was capped by a huge dunk from junior center Victor Ljuljdjuraj (Bronx, N.Y.) which sent the crowd to their feet and the teams to the benches as Norwich called a timeout.

Norwich finally settled in and started to compete against the Falcons outscoring the falcons 10-8 in the next four minutes. Gary Gladden had an amazing impact for the Cadets off the bench as he had a game high 12 points in the first half.

Just when the Cadets thought they were gaining ground, the Falcons struck again with a huge 10-0 run to bring the score to 35-10. The run was led by back to back three pointers from Kyle Wiggins (Milford, Conn.) and Darius Watson (New Britain, Conn.).

Norwich was trying to do everything they could against the Falcon defense. Evan Tullar saw a window of opportunity with 6:19 remaining in the half to get some momentum. After he took a screen from a teammate, Tullar made a move around the pick, drove down the middle of the lane and one-hand dunked the ball with no contention from the Falcons.

Watson responded just two minutes later as Eian Davis (Brooklyn, N.Y.) threw up a beautiful alley-oop to Watson who threw down a thunderous dunk. This brought the score to 39-18 with a little over four minutes left to play.

After a few buckets from the Falcons, Norwich swung the ball around to find an open Dennis Brooks in the corner for three. As the Falcons were scrambling to recover, Brooks threw up the three only to be met by the hand of Marcus Walker (Newark, N.J.) who blocked the ball into the Albertus student section.

The half ended 48-31 in favor of the Falcons. Gladden and Watson led in scoring with 12 points. The Falcons shot 48.5% from the floor while the Cadets shot just 26.5%.

After a three pointer by Nickolai Havoutis in the first 30 seconds of play in the second half, the Falcons started right where they left off in the first half as they went on another huge scoring run. This run was powered by the outside shooting from Watson. Watson hit two three pointers in the 15-0 run to bring the score to 65-26. The 39-point margin was the largest of the night. Watson ended the night with a team-high 18 points.

Great heart was shown from the Cadets as they played with full intensity and effort for the entire contest. Gladden worked hard constantly driving the lane and taking fouls from the defenders. Gladden was relentless in getting to the line and cashed in on all eight of his attempts.

The athleticism for the Falcons was just too much for the Cadets however. With just 7:27 left in the game, Davis gave a beautiful no-look pass to Ljuljdjuraj who slammed it down with one hand. Davis ended the night with 12 assists and scored 12 points. Ljuljdjuraj snagged another double-double as he scored 16 points and ripped down 15 rebounds.

Gladden led all scorers with 20 points just edging out his teammate Tullar who had 19. Four Falcons ended in double figures and the bench contributed with 22 points.

The game ended 87-69 in favor of the Falcons who will move on to the semifinals of the GNAC tournament. Albertus Magnus improved their record to 24-2 overall while the Cadets fall to 6-20 on the year. The Falcons have now won 39-straight home games, the current longest home winning streak in NCAA men’s basketball.

The Falcons are now 17-12 all-time against Norwich dating back to their first meeting during the 1993-94 season.

Albertus has won the last 12 meetings against Norwich dating back to January 17, 2009.

The Falcons will now play Lasell College Thursday night at the Cosgrove Marcus Messer Center in New Haven, Conn. in the semifinal game at 7:00 p.m.

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