With 19 seconds left and the Stony Brook men’s basketball team down by just two against the Yale Bulldogs, sophomore guard Miles Latimer fired a shot from behind the three-point line, having missed all of his downtown attempts on the night so far. Island Federal Credit Union Arena erupted in raucous cheer as the ball sank through the net to give the Seawolves a 62-61 lead, but the excitement was short-lived as the Bulldogs would force overtime and ultimately reign victorious 74-69 in the season opener.
“Hitting that one in felt really good just giving us a chance to win,” Latimer said in a postgame press conference. “I felt it gave the whole team a little bit of a spark, and if we had played defense for five more seconds, we’d come out with a win. It felt good to finally stick one in, but I’m not overall happy with my performance.”
Needing to make one final stop, Latimer fouled Yale junior forward Paul Atkinson with five seconds left. Atkinson made just one of two free throws to keep the game tied at 62 heading into the extra period, where the Seawolves never led as the Bulldogs got a three from senior guard Eric Monroe a minute in and held on from there on out. Junior guard Jalen Gabbidon sunk the dagger with 2:35 left, his three putting Yale up by five.
Atkinson led all players on the night with 26 points. Junior forward Elijah Olaniyi overcame a rough 1-for-12 start to finish as Stony Brook’s leading scorer with 19 points on 6-for-20 shooting, including two clutch threes down the stretch. Four Seawolves scored in double digits, including Latimer’s 16, redshirt-junior guard Makale Foreman’s 13 and redshirt-junior forward Andrew Garcia’s 11.
“We were out of rhythm somewhat because guys have not been on the floor together,” head coach Geno Ford said in a postgame press conference. “The bottom line is, with nine seconds to go, we needed one stop and we didn’t get it.”
The Seawolves’ first half was a performance to forget as the team shot 7-for-28 including 1-for-8 from downtown, recorded 11 turnovers and exhibited generally poor shot selection throughout. Strong free throw shooting and similar Yale miscues helped the deficit grow no larger than 10. Stony Brook came out of the halftime strong, scoring the first eight points of the second half as part of an 11-0 run that gave them a 31-30 lead — their first in 20 minutes.
“The problem we had in the first half was we were totally driving to try to draw fouls,” Ford said. “In the second half, interestingly, when we started attacking up through the basket instead of jump sideways into guys, now you get fouled… If we played the first half like we played the second half, we’re having a different conversation.”
Stony Brook was able to keep pace with Yale throughout most of the second half, never falling down by more than six. Olaniyi kickstarted a 5-for-8 stretch to end the game with a three-pointer six minutes into the frame to tie the score up at 38. The two teams continued to trade buckets as the Seawolves couldn’t muster a lead greater than one.
Under two minutes to go and down 61-55, Foreman converted from beyond the arc, Olaniyi made one of two after being fouled on the next possession and Latimer grabbed the rebound off the missed front end of a Yale one-and-one to set up his three that gave Stony Brook the lead back.
“I thought our competitive spirit and our desire to win the game was really high in the second half,” Ford said. “We just kept finding a way to chip away and stay in the game because it felt like the whole time that we were never over the hump.”
Junior Jordan McKenzie earned the start at point guard as Foreman missed the last 12 days of practice with an injury, but it was Foreman who earned the bulk of the minutes on Tuesday night.
Stony Brook’s defensive performance helped keep them in the game, out-rebounding Yale 47-43. The duo of junior center Jeff Otchere and junior forward Mouhamadou Gueye combined for all of the team’s nine blocks. In his Seawolves debut, Gueye was able to rack up 10 rebounds and five blocks in 24 minutes but struggled with fouls, committing his fifth in overtime. Otchere recorded a career-high 12 rebounds along with four blocks and noticeably had zero fouls after the matter was an issue last season; he missed some minutes down the stretch due to cramping.
The road doesn’t get any easier for the Seawolves as they travel to South Orange, New Jersey to take on the No. 12 Seton Hall Pirates on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 2:30 p.m. The game marks the first time Stony Brook has played an opponent ranked in the AP Top 25 Poll since they lost 93-71 to No. 2 Michigan State on Nov. 19, 2017.