March Madness is magical, but never as miraculous as it was at the SEFCU Arena in Albany, New York on Saturday. The American East leading Great Danes led at first, but then trailed most of the second half. Peter Hooley came off of the bench as he had been doing during a second half of the season. You see, he missed 8 games mid-season to be with his ailing mother in his native Australia. She suffered from cancer and passed away. Hooley returned to be with his teammates in mid-February.
Suddenly Hooley, one of the Dane’s most reliable upper-class leaders, was not only readjusting to life without his mother, but also working to return to the rigors and rhythm of a demanding D1 season.
On Saturday Hooley came off the bench as he’d been doing since returning to Albany. Albany trailed at home 41-33 with 6:11 left in the American East Conference Championship game.
The Great Danes came chasing back into the game. With 17 seconds left, Hooley fouled a Stony Brook player, sending him to the free throw line. One of two shots were made and UAlbany got the ball back down by two points.
Albany’s guards had difficultly with a couple hurried screens and the ball fell into Hooley’s hands. Five seconds remained. A shot went up and five players in the paints reached, but the ball was slap rapidly to Hooley. Hooley set his feet and shot up a prayer from about 25 feet. The prayer was answered and jubilation exploded in his hometown. Hooley’s sister Emma continued sending tweets at 2:30 a.m. Hahndorf, South Australia time.