Senior guard Jaron Cornish wore his emotions on his sleeve when his layup counted and drew a foul as well with 32.4 seconds left in the game. The crowd at Island Federal Credit Union Arena erupted as the No. 2-ranked Stony Brook men’s basketball team was fighting to overcome a 24-point deficit, and Cornish’s upcoming free-throw attempt could have trimmed the lead against No. 7 Binghamton to one.
However, the foul was reviewed, and ultimately, waived off.
“I think that’s the first time all year that our monitors have actually worked and the call was actually reversed,” head coach Jeff Boals said. “It was a bang-bang call. It’s one of the most difficult calls in college basketball, a block/charge. The way the game was going, you would’ve thought it was going to go the other way. Disappointed we didn’t get it, but it’s part of the game.”
The call essentially took the wind out of the Seawolves’ sails, as they were unable to cut the lead anymore and the Bearcats pulled away in the final 30 seconds to upset them 78-72 Saturday night.
Sophomore forward Elijah Olayini led all scorers with 27 points, while Cornish and redshirt-junior forward Akwasi Yeboah each chipped in 13 points. Yeboah was unable to find a rhythm all game, struggling with his three-point shot and was failed to keep himself out of foul trouble.
Binghamton was able to break out of an early shooting slump and heat up from behind the arc. Anytime Stony Brook seemed to string together a couple of baskets, Binghamton would respond with threes, continuing to grow the lead.
Meanwhile, the Seawolves struggled to find their shooting form, especially from three. Olayini and Yeboah combined to go 2-14 from deep and the team only made six of its 23 attempts. The first half truly showed their offensive struggles, as they only made eight total shots and were down 18 entering halftime.
“I think it was a combination of everything,” Boals said about the first half struggles. “They were the aggressors right out of the gate. They’re a team where half their shots are threes, so if they’re hitting shots early, they get confidence. The first war was 9-9, the second war we lost and the third war we lost. Once you do that, you give them confidence.”
The Bearcats came out from the break still hot, pushing the lead to 24 with 16:21 left in the second half. When it seemed all but over, back-to-back threes from Cornish and Olayini got the crowd right back into the game and the comeback started.
Late free-throw struggles for Binghamton gave Stony Brook even more chances to complete, a thing this team was known for numerous times this season. Cornish’s layup was waived off after nearly a 10 minute review, and Stony Brook never scored again until freshman guard Miles Latimer hit a shot at the buzzer, despite it not being enough to win the game.
The look of disappointment was evident on both Olayini’s and Cornish’s faces postgame. Olayini had one of the best games of his career, while Cornish’s career as a Seawolf came to an end after the loss.
“Fight,” Olayini said about the team’s message at halftime. “We came out in the second half with the mentality to fight. We’ve been in this situation before, just wasn’t enough.”
The senior leaves the program after scoring 508 total points in his two years as a transfer. He recorded 185 assists and grabbed 188 rebounds as well. He scored a career-high 30 points against UAlbany earlier this season.
“Just playing as a team, playing as one,” Cornish said about what he was proud of this season.
Stony Brook’s season comes to a close with a 24-8 overall record. Cornish is the only member of the team graduating, so a majority of the players from this year’s team should be returning to the court for the 2019-20 season.