He was held off the scoreboard all night long. Nevertheless, when the ball was passed into his arms, sophomore guard Miles Latimer fired an open-look three from the right wing.
The ball found nothing but net, breaking the tie with 1:08 left to give the Stony Brook men’s basketball team a crucial late-game lead. Stony Brook (19-11, 10-5) would hold on for the 52-49 road victory over the Albany Great Danes (14-16, 7-8) on Saturday, Feb. 29 at SEFCU Arena. The win guaranteed the Seawolves a top-3 seed in the America East and at least one home game in the conference tournament.
It was the first time Stony Brook had swept the season series against their in-state rivals since 2017. The back-and-forth battle between two offensively cold teams culminated in an unsung hero taking the winning shot, with redshirt-junior guard Makale Foreman icing the game with another clutch performance at the line.
“I thought [Albany’s] defense was terrific. I thought our defense was terrific,” head coach Geno Ford said in a postgame press conference. “It came down to making that one shot, and Miles hit a huge three for us that was the separator, but I thought both teams competed hard and guarded at a high level.”
Playing in their fifth straight game without junior guard Elijah Olaniyi, who was out again due to a high ankle sprain, the Seawolves did not shoot the ball particularly well, ending the night 38% from the floor and 29% from beyond the arc. However, the Great Danes suffered from the same problem, hitting on 36% and 23% of those shots, respectively.
Albany scored the first five points coming out of halftime to take a 28-22 lead, but the Seawolves struck back with seven straight of their own to go up 29-28 before the Danes countered, getting the next five. Then, from the 13:48 mark in the second half until 25 seconds remaining, when Foreman sank a pair of free throws to put Stony Brook up by 5, neither team had a multi-possession lead. The Seawolves played from behind for a majority of the period but found themselves on top occasionally only to see that lead taken away quickly by the Great Danes.
Foreman led his team with 16 points, while redshirt-junior forward Andrew Garcia recorded his sixth double-double of the season, scoring 13 with 10 rebounds. Garcia’s offensive production came even though he faced a double-team as soon as the ball came his way. Albany senior forward Romani Hansen led all players with a career-high of 18 points, while senior guard Ahmad Clark added 14 mostly through mid-range jumpers.
“One thing I’ll give Makale that not a lot of guys can do is he can really miss a lot of shots in a row and still shoot the next one with the same mentality like, ‘I’m going to hit this one’,” Ford said. “He was 1-for-7 at halftime and came out in the second half. He had a little stretch that kind of kept us attached.”
For the second straight game, the Seawolves jumped out to a commanding first-half lead and coughed it up before the break. Garcia gave Stony Brook an 8-point lead eight-and-a-half minutes in with a corner three, but Hansen would do his best to single-handedly carry the Great Danes back into the game. He connected on his next two shots from deep and added a jumper in the paint.
Albany would end the first half on a 14-5 run that saw them take a 23-22 lead, holding Stony Brook scoreless over the final 1:42. Great Danes head coach Will Brown continued his tradition of starting all five seniors in the lineup on Senior Night, Albany’s final home game of the year. Hansen, the junior college transfer, earned his minutes beyond the gimmick, driving the Danes’ offense through the late first half.
“Tonight, the pace of the game was slow,” Ford said. “Our other games, we lead the league in tempo. We have raced it down and scored 54 points in three straight games. That’s not exactly real good offense. We’ve got to figure out some things, like a lot of people right now, trying to find our way without [Elijah] and that’s been kind of hard for us, especially on the offensive end.”
Although the Seawolves have clinched a home game in the America East playoffs, the grind does not stop here. In order to capture a top-2 seed and home-court advantage in a potential semifinals match, Stony Brook needs either a win over their next opponent, the UMBC Retrievers (14-16, 7-8), on Tuesday, Mar. 2 at the UMBC Event Center in Baltimore, Maryland, or a Hartford loss at home against eighth-place Maine.