Stony Brook senior forward Jakub Petras, frustrated after not getting a foul call on a shot attempt, committed his third foul of the game with under 10 minutes to go. Head coach Jeff Boals, visibly angry, took Petras out of the game and chewed him out before sending him to the bench.
With the game tied at 58 and 9:06 remaining in the fourth quarter, Boals reiterated post-game that small moments like that can make a huge difference in the end of the game.
“That’s a little play in the game that adds up for the end of the game,” Boals said. “We talked about it afterward, like who knows what’s going to happen if you don’t foul him, maybe you’re down one with a chance to win the game with a layup. In a game like this, you can’t afford to give points away, and we talked about it after the game that the little things will add up.”
The momentum shifted in the Pride’s favor. They used the Petras foul as motivation and fought to the final buzzer, holding on to take down the Seawolves 84-81 in the Battle of Long Island at the Island Federal Credit Union Arena Tuesday night.
Stony Brook’s senior forward Tyrell Sturdivant had an opportunity to tie the game at the buzzer with a three-pointer after Hofstra’s junior guard Justin Wright-Foreman missed two free throws with 4.8 seconds remaining. Redshirt-sophomore forward Akwasi Yeboah grabbed the rebound and found Sturdivant, who took a desperation three-pointer to tie the game.
His shot bounced off the front of the rim and missed. The forward turned to the crowd with a half-smile on his face, knowing he was just off from making another clutch basket this season.
“I thought it was a great college basketball game for us tonight,” Boals said. “Based on how things went last year, I knew our guys were going to come out and compete hard. I was really proud of our effort. To be in that situation, down three with 4.8 to go, and have their best player on the line and he misses. Then for us to have a look like that, he had a great look at it and it just came up a little short.”
Stony Brook had an opportunity to take over the game after Yeboah was fouled during a three-point attempt. He sunk all three of his free throws to tie the game at 77, but senior guard Bryan Sekunda fouled Wright-Foreman on a three-point attempt. Wright-Foreman, who finished the night with 33 points, made all three free throws, and Hofstra never relinquished the lead again.
The game opened up in the Seawolves’ favor, remembering the 96-58 loss they took at the hands of the Pride last year. Stony Brook started the game on a 12-5 run before Hofstra went on a 13-6 run of its own to tie the game at 18 midway through the first half.
“Last year was just a whole different game,” Sekunda said. “We didn’t play well last year and they came in ready to go, and we just weren’t ready for that game. That was one of 30 games where we came out flat, almost the whole game. Play that game 10 times last year and it’s probably different, and I’d say the same thing about this year as well.”
Three Stony Brook players scored above 15 points, with junior guard Jaron Cornish leading the team with 22 points. Cornish hit back-to-back shots with under 30 seconds to go to cut the lead to three. Sekunda was right behind him with 20 points, including six three-pointers. He scored eight straight points five minutes into the second half to give Stony Brook a 51-45 lead.
Both Sekunda and Cornish, who have flourished as of late, entered the starting lineup against Columbia and Hofstra. Cornish has scored in double figures for four straight games, while Sekunda has made 10 threes in his last three games.
Despite their stellar play of late, they know more work needs to be done in order to win games.
“It was a hard game,” Cornish said. “We could do better, we made a lot of mistakes and mental errors. It still was a close game, so we just have to get back in practice and fix those errors.”
Stony Brook will have some time off before their next game. The team will hit the road and travel to Rhode Island to take on Providence on Sunday, Dec. 17 at 2:30 p.m.