When the Great Danes missed a running lay-up, the ball was tipped back out to the top of the key, where junior guard Peter Hooley scooped it up and took an awkward heave at the basket.
Hooley, whose mother died after a battle with cancer in January, had his prayers answered. Albany hit just one out of the 10 3-pointers it took that night, but the most important one went down.
No. 14 Albany will play in its third straight NCAA Tournament, claiming the automatic bid from the America East.
“We’ll watch a lot of film on Albany (Sunday),” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “Will Brown has been there for a while, and has always done a good job there. As far as this particular team, we’ll learn a lot more as we watch (Sunday night).”
That’s exactly where Kruger and his assistant coaches went after the festivities died down at Oklahoma’s banquet Sunday afternoon before the selection show: Picking at the nuances of Brown, who has been in charge of the experienced-laden Great Danes for 14 seasons. Albany has made the NCAA Tournament five times under Brown.
G Peter Hooley, 6-4, Jr., 13.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg
G Evan Singletary, 6-1, Jr., 13.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg
G/F Ray Sanders, 6-4, Jr., 9.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg
F Sam Rowley, 6-6, Sr., 14.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg
C Richard Peters, 6-11, So., 2.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg
“Albany is good, obviously, since they made the tournament,” Oklahoma forward Ryan Spangler said, adding later that he has moved on from his miss in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals. “Now, we’re going to have to work the next two or three days of practice and try to go get us a win.”
Brown won coach of the year honors in the conference, leading Albany to 19 wins in its final 20 games but never beat a “Power 5” Conference team. Meanwhile, Oklahoma faced 14 ranked teams this season, winning a program record seven games.