ALBANY, NY -- Travis Charles tied a career-high with 19 points and scored the go-ahead basket with 2:31 remaining as UAlbany retained the Albany Cup with a 74-69 victory over Siena Basketball in the Houzz Gotham Classic presented by TicketIQ in front of 9,017 at the Times Union Center. Freshman guard Roman Penn led four Saints in double figures with a season-high 15 points.
Joe Cremo contributed 16 points for UAlbany (10-1) which has captured six of the past eight Albany Cups. David Nichols added 12 points albeit on just 5-17 shooting for the Great Danes which built upon the program's best-ever Division I start and best start overall in 24 years.
UAlbany led for more than 35 minutes and by as many as 11 points. The Great Danes shot 57% from the field in the opening half to take a 38-28 lead at the break.
But for the second straight year the Saints used a hot shooting second half to get back into it. Siena, which shot a sizzling 74% in the final stanza of last year's comeback bid on Washington Avenue, connected at a 61% clip over the final 20 minutes in the latest installment of the Albany Cup.
Still trailing by 11 with less than eight minutes remaining, the Saints embarked upon a 15-2 over 3:32 to claim its first lead since the opening moments. Shivers capped the run with back-to-back threes to put Siena in front 65-63 with 4:14 to go.
However Charles tied the game on the next possession and ultimately scored six of UAlbany's next eight points including two clutch free throws to give the Great Danes a two-possession lead at 71-67 with 33.7 seconds remaining.
The Saints conclude their grueling stretch Monday where they play three games in six days against teams which posted a combined 75-29 record last season. Siena travels to Vermont to face the defending America East Champion and preseason favorite Catamounts in a 7 p.m. affair in Burlington.