After falling to Loyola on a last-second shot Wednesday, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team wanted redemption. On Saturday night, against Northeastern, the Seawolves nearly lost on a buzzer-beater again, but a last second three point attempt missed and Stony Brook won, 77-75.
“[Our team] had multiple chances where they could have broke,” said Jeff Boals, who won his first home game as Stony Brook head coach. “But they bent and didn’t break. That’s a sign of maturity. That’s a sign of growth.”
With 20 seconds left in the game, Stony Brook was up 75-72. Northeastern penetrated through Stony Brook’s full-court pressure defense and was able to get the ball to Bolden Brace on the three-point line. It was a miss.
Alex Murphy collected the offensive rebound for the Huskies and hit a layup. The whistle sounded — an “and-one” — as senior guard Kameron Mitchell was called for a foul. Murphy sank the free throw to tie the game at 75.
Stony Brook went to inbound the ball. Another whistle blew. T.J. Williams, the 12th-leading scorer in the nation and leading scorer in the game with 20 points, was called for an off-the-ball foul against senior guard Lucas Woodhouse, who went to the line. He made both free throws to put his team up two. Woodhouse shot 8-for-8 on free throws in the game’s final two minutes and had 17 points on the night.
“In our shootarounds, we practice them,” Woodhouse said. “We have a competition: who can make a certain amount… [Junior center] Jake [Petras] actually won two of them.”
With just eight seconds left, the Huskies inbounded the ball. Stony Brook’s full-court press retreated to a half-court set, anticipating the ball to go to Williams. Instead it went to forward Jeremy Miller, who was 3-for-3 from three-point range at that point.
“We wanted to switch on every ball screen,” Boals said. “We knew they were probably going to try to run something for Williams. They ended up running it for Miller, who’s a really good shooter.”
Mitchell ran up to him, arms straight up in the air.
“Please don’t go in. Please don’t go in,” Boals begged to himself.
The ball clanged off the rim as the buzzer sounded. The Seawolves won their first home game of the season, improving to 2-5 overall.
While three-point shooting proved to be the Huskies’ downfall, it was the Seawolves’ greatest weapon.
Stony Brook put on a shooting clinic throughout the game. After Northeastern went on a 7-0 to start off the game, Stony Brook slowly battled back with a five point run of its own. Junior guard U.C. Iroegbu hit a three-point shot to give the Seawolves a 9-7 lead and extend their run to nine points.
The floodgates opened for Stony Brook. Redshirt junior forward Roland Nyama hit a pair of consecutive jumpers from downtown to push Stony Brook’s steadily growing lead to 15-7. Iroegbu and junior forward Bryan Sekunda pushed the lead to 21-10 after Northeastern’s T.J. Williams, the 13th leading scorer in the country, made a jumper to end Stony Brook’s run.
“We saw our shots go in early,” junior forward Tyrell Sturdivant said. “Once we settled in, and shots started to fall, I feel like we could play with anybody.”
Although the Huskies were down by 15, Williams led a comeback that haunted the Seawolves until the final buzzer sounded. He had four consecutive points to cut the lead to 10 with less than five minutes left in the first half. The Huskies closed out the half with a 18-9 run.
“My biggest thing was just to relax, understand what got us the lead” Boals said about his halftime message. “I was proud of them.”
Northeastern came out of halftime ready to take over. The Huskies managed to build a five-point lead on the Seawolves after Williams stole the ball and laid the ball in on a fastbreak.
But Sekunda went on a three-point shooting tear to help the Seawolves get the lead back. He sunk one from beyond the arc to cut Northeastern’s lead to two and made another shot to go up three points after Nyama made a game-tying layup with 10:55 left on the clock.
Mitchell made a three of his own to push the lead to 56-50 and Sturdivant bullied his way to the basket and made a layup, just two of his 12 points on the night, to make it an eight-point game, Stony Brook’s largest lead of the second half.
The Seawolves continue their homestand against Lehigh next Tuesday at 7 p.m.