In the second game of a difficult 4-game road trip, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team lost 82-78 to the Providence Friars (6-5) on Saturday, Dec. 14, dropping their second consecutive game and falling to 7-5 on the season. The Seawolves held a second-half lead again in the third meeting between the America East and Big East schools but were unable to beat the size and physicality of the Friars.
“They were excellent and deserved to win,” head coach Geno Ford said in a press release. “I thought we did enough to hang in. A bad start hurt us, but it was going to be a tall task. They play like that, they’re not going to lose to too many people.”
The Seawolves fell down early, finding themselves in a double-digit hole a little more than five minutes into the game. Providence excelled with the long ball during the entire night and hit on three of their first five 3-point attempts. In contrast, Stony Brook began the game 1-for-11 from 3-point range, with the only made shot coming from junior forward Mouhamadou Gueye. Providence’s lead grew to as large as 14 two and a half minutes left into the first half, and they entered the break with a 34-24 advantage.
Stony Brook came out of halftime rejuvenated, going on an 11-0 run to take their first lead since the opening minute. Redshirt-junior guard Makale Foreman capped off the stretch as he hit an NBA-range three to put the Seawolves up 35-34. The lead was short-lived, however, as Providence scored the next 12 points to go back up 46-35. The Friars’ full-court press gave the Seawolves fits throughout the night, leading to turnovers and a lack of open lanes.
Junior center Jeff Otchere went down after being called for a blocking foul and was helped off the court clutching his shoulder. He came back and got a key and-one to cut Providence’s lead down to six. The Friars quickly took back the momentum as sophomore guard A.J. Reeves hit two threes with a strip-and-dunk from senior guard Alpha Diallo sandwiched in between. The lead was back up to 14 midway through the second half at 56-42.
Stony Brook continued to battle; an 8-0 run brought the deficit back to six, and the two teams would continue to trade baskets. Down 60-56 and needing a stop to make it a one-possession game, sophomore guard Miles Latimer had the ball stolen from him. Providence sophomore guard David Duke responded from deep to go up by seven.
Junior forward Elijah Olaniyi was fouled under the basket after rebounding a missed three and hit both free throws to make it 63-58. Diallo countered with a jumper on the other end, but Olaniyi slashed through the paint for the layup to keep the deficit at five points. The Friars got everything they needed on the next possession, with Duke draining a contested three with two seconds left on the shot clock to go up 68-60.
Foreman was left wide open and hit a corner three with 2:24 remaining. Needing a crucial stop, Stony Brook allowed Providence graduate guard Luwane Pipkins to connect on the long ball.
The Seawolves began to foul down by six with a minute left, and the Friars were clutch with their late-game free-throw shooting. Latimer, Gueye, Olaniyi and redshirt-junior forward Andrew Garcia all hit 3-pointers with less than a minute left — Gueye’s got Stony Brook to within three — but Providence sealed the game at the line.
Olaniyi led all players with 25 points on 9-for-15 shooting as well as nine rebounds, a nice bounce-back effort after a foul-plagued Hofstra game. Latimer had his second straight double-digit game with 13 points, while the duo of Gueye and Otchere combined for seven blocks.
For a second straight game, the Seawolves allowed their opponent to get hot from 3-point range, with half of the Friars’ made shots coming from downtown. The Seawolves also struggled with turnovers again and the Friars were able to score 29 points off of 20 giveaways.
Stony Brook’s challenging non-conference schedule reaches its most vaunted opponent next — the defending champions Virginia Cavaliers. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 19 at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Virginia.