Stony Brook’s men’s basketball team put on a show for a sold-out crowd of 4,423 at Stony Brook Arena, defeating Maine 71-69 in overtime in an exciting back-and-forth battle. The game was televised on ESPNU for Stony Brook’s first regular-season national home telecast and a part of Seawolves Winterfest 2011.
“It was a great environment here today, and I think that helped our team win today,” head coach Steve Pikiell said. “It was a tremendous crowd, and it was a proud day to be a member of the Stony Brook community.”
The Seawolves have now won back-to-back games to improve to 11-14 overall and 6-7 in the America East Conference, moving them into fourth place.
“We’re playing good basketball now,” Pikiell said. “We’re better defensively and we’re rebounding better, so I’m really pleased with how we’re progressing down the stretch.”
The Black Bears, who entered the game in second place in the conference, have now lost four straight games, falling to 14-11 overall and 8-5 in the conference.
Junior Bryan Dougher (Scotch Plains, N.J.) led the Seawolves with 20 points, all of which came after halftime. Sophomore Leonard Hayes (Voorhees, N.J.) added 16 points and six rebounds.
Maine came out firing in the first half, jumping out to a 14-2 start five minutes into the game. But Stony Brook battled back with big plays from freshman Anthony Jackson (Columbus, Ohio), who provide a huge spark off the bench.
“He gave us a great lift and got us going in transition,” Pikiell said. “He did a good job sparking us and hitting threes.”
After a missed jumper from Raheem Singleton, Jackson was able to find Danny Carter (Windsor, England) for a fast-break dunk that brought the crowd to its feet and put the Seawolves within one, forcing Maine to call a timeout.
Jackson later drilled a deep three-pointer to give Stony Brook its first lead, 24-22. Despite scoreless efforts from three of their starters, the Seawolves would go into halftime with a 34-33 lead.
Dougher finally got on the scoreboard with a three-pointer four minutes into the second half and followed with a layup and a floater on back-to-back possessions, sparking a 17-8 run by Stony Brook. His three-pointer with just over nine minutes left gave Stony Brook its largest lead at 51-41
“I loosened up a little bit and got better looks,” Dougher said. “In the first half I forced a couple shots so I just let the ball find me [in the second half].”
Defensive lapses allowed the Black Bears back into the game, as a layup from Sean McNally tied the game at 57-57 with three minutes left. It looked as though they would be able to complete the comeback after Gerald McLemore stole the ball from Hayes, but he missed his jumper, giving Stony Brook possession.
Center Dallis Joyner (Norfolk, Va.) came up big on the ensuing play, grabbing two offensive rebounds before drawing a shooting foul. Despite shooting just 40 percent from the free throw line this season, he calmly sank both free throws to give Stony Brook a 59-57 lead.
Two possessions later, Troy Barnies was able to get around his defender for a layup to tie the game at 59-59. Dougher missed a game-winning three-pointer to send the game into overtime.
As Maine blanketed Dougher to start overtime, Hayes took over, drilling a three pointer and hitting a jumper from the top of the key on back-to-back possessions to give the Seawolves a 64-61 lead.
“We were just running a simple offense,” Hayes said. “They were doubling Bryan so I was open.”
Dave Coley (Brooklyn, N.Y.) extended the lead to six with a pair of free throws, but the Black Bears fought back with free throws of their own to cut the lead to one at 66-65 with 1:37 left.
On the ensuing possession, Joyner made a big play, grabbing another offensive rebound after a missed three-pointer from Dougher. After a timeout, Dougher connected on a floater put Stony Brook up three, 68-65.
Maine tried to answer back, but Joyner came up big again as he drew a charge to give the Seawolves possession. Stony Brook would hit its free throws on its way to victory.
Stony Brook hit 11 three-pointers for the third time this season and outrebounded Maine 40-34, including 14 offensive rebounds that led to 17 second-chance points. Joyner finished the game with 10 rebounds to go with four points. Carter chipped in with 12 points, all of them coming in the first half. Jackson finished with eight points and three assists.
For Maine, McLemore led all scorers with 23 points, making all ten of his free throws. Barnies finished with 28 points and 15 rebounds.
The Seawolves will be back on the road on Monday to face Albany at 7 p.m. The two teams are separated by just a half game in the conference standings. The game will be televised on MSG-Plus.