Senior guard Peter Hooley caught the ball near halfcourt, took two dribbles and pulled up for three over the outstretched arms of sophomore guard Bryan Sekunda. The attempt came from the same spot Hooley ended Stony Brook’s America East title hopes last March, and went with the same result. The score gave Albany a 13-point lead with 4:43 to play, one of many responses to Stony Brook’s comeback attempts in a 82-70 Great Danes victory.
“This was a high level game today which I like, because we’re going to have another one down the road too,” Stony Brook head coach Steve Pikiell said. “We haven’t played in these kinds of games lately.”
The Seawolves (22-5, 13-1 AE) men’s basketball team trailed by seven at halftime, an unfamiliar place for a team on an 18-game winning streak, many of which coming by double digits. Albany (22-7, 11-3 AE) entered this game with a streak of its own with 12 straight home wins, adding on to it after taking a double figure lead a little over five minutes into the second half and holding firm the rest of the way.
Albany cut off the head of Stony Brook’s snake early, holding senior forward Jameel Warney to just two points in the first half as its lead grew.
“I feel like there were some shots that I usually make that just weren’t going in,” Warney said. “I’ve seen everything that they’ve done before, but credit to them, they found a way to stop me.”
He would bounce back with a 12-point second half, but the rest of Pikiell’s squad struggled.
Senior guard Carson Puriefoy finished with 10 points on 2-for-11 shooting from the field. No Seawolves starter shot over 50 percent from the field and as a team, Stony Brook shot 39.4 percent from the field and 20 percent on 3-pointers. Its bench scored just seven points on the night.
“We just have to play through it,” senior forward Rayshaun McGrew said. “There’s been games like this before, that the three-point shot wasn’t falling. It’s not just Albany, we just have to find a way to do it like we did in the other games.”
Albany committed 17 turnovers, but shot 54.7 percent from the field as a team. Leading the attack was Hooley, who finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Every Great Dane that played put up points.
To add insult to injury for Stony Brook, Sekunda went down with an apparent left knee injury late in the contest.
Warney struggled to get in an offensive rhythm in the face of Albany’s double teams. The two-time America East Player of the Year shot just 1-for-3 from the field and turned the ball over twice in the opening 20 minutes. The Seawolves got good looks from deep with the Great Danes pressuring the low post, but could not convert, shooting 1-for-7 on 3-pointers in the first half.
Junior guard Kameron Mitchell was a sparkplug early, scoring on a floater then immediately drawing a charge soon after checking on off the bench. Mitchell’s minutes have been sporadic this season, but the Jacksonville, Florida drew two charges in eight first-half minutes.
McGrew was Stony Brook’s lone source of offense with 13 first-half points, but with the rest of his team struggling, Albany stormed ahead. Junior guard Lucas Woodhouse shot 1-for-5, from the field, while Puriefoy scored just five points.
The Seawolves took an early 20-13 lead before the Great Danes began knocking down 3-pointers. Albany shot 5-for-8 on 3-pointers in the first half, two makes belonging to senior guard Evan Singletary, helping spark an 18-4 run late in the period to put Stony Brook in a hole.
Next up for the Seawolves is a road game against Maine, which tips off on Sunday, Feb. 21 at 2 p.m..