Seeking their first victory in the Battle of Long Island since 2015, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team could not seal the deal in the final minutes and ultimately fell 71-63 to the Hofstra Pride (7-4) on Tuesday, Dec. 10, snapping their two-game winning streak and dropping their record to 7-4 on the season.
“It was a good college basketball game,” head coach Geno Ford said in a press release. “They made more plays the last four minutes than we were able to make. It was back and forth pretty much the whole time. Give them credit because late we couldn’t quite knock in the big three. We had a couple of really good looks that just rattled out on us. And they were able to really hurt us on the offensive glass, especially down the stretch.”
The Seawolves were tested early when junior forward Elijah Olaniyi, coming off a career-high 30-point game, found himself in foul trouble. The opening minutes of the game were heavy on the long ball as the Pride connected on their first three shots from deep. Junior forward Mouhamadou Gueye gave Stony Brook its first lead of the night, 10-9, with a three from the top of the key. Gueye was a defensive force throughout the first half, recording eight of his nine total rebounds in the first 12 minutes of the game.
Redshirt-junior forward Andrew Garcia gave Stony Brook its largest lead of the first half when his layup put the Seawolves up 14-9 to cap off nine consecutive points for the road team. After his bucket, neither team would score for the next two and a half minutes. A bevy of Stony Brook turnovers halted any chance of the offense finding a solid rhythm. Hofstra eventually capitalized off the miscues, at one point knocking down five straight field goals and forcing Ford to call a timeout as the Seawolves fell behind 26-22 with less than six minutes to go until halftime.
The Pride’s lead grew to as large as eight, but redshirt-junior guard Makale Foreman single-handedly made it a two-point game to enter the break. With 45 seconds left, he hit an NBA-range three to cut the deficit to five, then hit a fadeaway three from the right wing as time expired to make it 36-34.
Olaniyi picked up his fourth foul two minutes into the second half, sending him back to the bench as he remained scoreless, having taken just three shots. Although the Pride’s shooting woes continued, the Seawolves could not capitalize and instead conceded steals and traveling violations. Foreman gave Stony Brook the lead back with yet another three-pointer, but Hofstra took it right back off a triple from junior guard Jalen Ray.
Foreman dished it to Gueye for the alley-oop to put the Seawolves back up 45-44. Stony Brook would not score for the next three minutes as a 10-0 Hofstra run gave the Pride their largest lead of the night. Olaniyi ended the drought with his first points of the contest, a three-point jumper to cut it to 54-48. Sophomore guard Miles Latimer, who had a career-high 22 points in last year’s Battle of Long Island, fired off threes on back-to-back possessions to knot the score up at 54 apiece and prompt Hofstra head coach Joe Mihalich to use a timeout.
Olaniyi finished Stony Brook’s 12-0 run with a completed three-point play, making it 57-54. The lead was shortly-held as Hofstra center Isaac Kante got the bucket and the foul on the other end to tie the game at 57. Garcia’s jumper put the Seawolves back up, and the Pride missed their ensuing three-point attempt. However, Olaniyi double-dribbled and gave the ball right back to Hofstra, who again missed from deep. This time, senior guard Eli Pemberton was there to grab the offensive board, and Ray converted the three-ball this time to give Hofstra a 60-59 lead with under six minutes to go.
Kante increased the Pride’s lead to three before Olaniyi countered with a layup to bring it back to one in what would be the Seawolves’ last basket of the game. Still down 62-61, neither team scored over the next two minutes. Hofstra’s late advantage on the glass would secure them the victory, separating from Stony Brook through free throws. Neither team made any field goals over the last five minutes.
Despite outshooting the Pride from the floor 41% to 31%, Stony Brook shot themselves in the foot with their turnover-heavy play, recording 22 to Hofstra’s 11. The Seawolves were also beat on the offensive glass 15 to 7, and Hofstra scored 14 second-chance points compared to Stony Brook’s 0. The Pride shot 12-for-35 from beyond the arc, which accounted for over half of their total 22 made field goals.
In the loss, Garcia recorded the first double-double by a Stony Brook player this season with season highs of 18 points and 12 rebounds. Foreman chipped in with 16 and Latimer with 10 as the other Seawolves with double-digit scoring numbers. Olaniyi was limited to 8 points in just 23 minutes, his first single-digit scoring game since Feb. 21 against Albany, snapping a 16-game streak of scoring at least 10. Junior center Jeff Otchere continued his stellar defensive play with five blocks and seven boards on the night.
Stony Brook will continue its road stretch on Saturday, Dec.14 against the Providence Friars of the Big East Conference. The last time these two teams faced in 2017, the Seawolves blew a double-digit second half lead and lost 62-60 on a last-second foul call. Stony Brook will look to avenge that defeat at 8 p.m. from the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island.