Redshirt-sophomore forward Akwasi Yeboah made a layup with 44 seconds remaining in the game to give Stony Brook Men’s Basketball a lead they would not relinquish, and made clutch free throws to take down Maine 64-61 at the Cross Insurance Center Sunday afternoon.
Senior guard U.C. Iroegbu and senior forward Tyrell Sturdivant went a combined 4-6 from the free throw line in the final 19 seconds to give the Seawolves a three point lead. Stony Brook has had difficulty making free throws in games in general, resulting in the team ranking last in the America East conference with a 63 shooting percentage from the line.
“Coming into this game we knew we had to be the most energetic team and we had to play the hardest,” head coach Jeff Boals said in a press release. “Maine had a five-minute stretch where they out-hustled us and out-competed us, and we can’t win like that. Our guys responded and made a run, and we found a way at the end to get it done.”
It was a game of runs on Sunday afternoon. Freshman forward Elijah Olaniyi and junior guard Jaron Cornish went on an 8-0 run for the Seawolves early in the first half to give the team a 21-10 lead. The Black Bears used a quick 5-0 run at the end of the first half to trim the deficit to one point heading into halftime.
Maine took the lead two minutes into the second half, then later used an 11-1 run to go up double digits on Stony Brook. The team responded in a big way, going on a 12-1 run less than a minute after the Maine run ended to take a 50-47 lead with 8:25 left in the second half.
Both teams traded baskets in the final eight minutes of regulation. With the game coming down to the wire, the common question about the Seawolves’ season was raised again: could the team hold onto a lead in the final minutes?
Both Iroegbu and Sturdivant made sure that Stony Brook was going to walk out of Maine with a victory. Iroegbu converted a layup and blocked Black Bears sophomore forward Andrew Fleming’s three-pointer just over one minute before Yeboah’s eventual game-winning layup. Iroegbu scored a team-high 13 points, his fourth straight game with double figures.
Sturdivant added 11 points in 16 minutes, while Yeboah and Olaniyi both posted 11 points as well. Senior forward Junior Saintel had a career day on the defensive side of the ball, rejecting a career-high five shots.
This was the 12th time this season Stony Brook had a game decided in the final minute of play. Early regular season wins in the final minute against Saint Francis and Hartford had highlighted the team’s ability to perform in the clutch.
However, five straight losses in the final minute during conference play tarnished that record. Sunday’s win bolstered their final minute record to 5-7, and the team holds an overall record of 10-16.
Stony Brook will hit the road again on Thursday, Feb. 15 when they take on Binghamton at 7 p.m.