Facing a quick turnaround without one of their best players, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team still appeared to be in the driver’s seat against the Fairfield Stags on Wednesday, Nov. 24 with an 11-point second-half lead and a red-hot Anthony Roberts leading the way.
Giving up a flurry of 3-pointers and forcing difficult shots in the extra period played big roles in the Seawolves’ late collapse for an 83-78 overtime loss.
Fairfield only made a single three in the first half, but Stony Brook’s players, owning a double-digit lead, tempted the Stags into shaking off the rust by allowing them numerous unguarded looks from deep. They took full advantage, hitting five straight in quick succession to make the game competitive again.
Once up 59-48, Stony Brook made only four field goals in the last 10 minutes of the second half and shot a dismal 2-for-9 in overtime. Graduate guard Jahlil Jenkins hit the first bucket in extras for a 73-71 lead and missed the next five he took.
Stags freshman guard TJ Long effectively iced the game by making the team’s first 3-pointer since the run of five in a row to put Fairfield up by multiple possessions with a minute left.
“It’s a very tough loss for us because it was one heck of a game,” head coach Geno Ford said in a press release. “Guys on both teams played at a high level today, but give them credit for making some shots in overtime. We had the ball on the road at the end of regulation with a chance to win and got it to the rim and just had the tip-in not fall. We did enough good things to win the game and we will build from this and get better.”
The two teams had met last year, when Stony Brook won 72-69 in overtime because a Fairfield player had attempted to drive for a layup that went in after the buzzer despite being down by three.
Fairfield head coach Jay Young was an assistant coach at Stony Brook under Steve Pikiell for 11 years. One of Young’s assistant coaches, Bryan Dougher, scored 1,609 points in four years as a player for Stony Brook, the second-most in the Division I era, giving the matchup extra meaning for the programs.
Graduate guard Elijah Olaniyi, who missed the final seven minutes of Stony Brook’s Monday win over Sacred Heart due to a knee injury, did not make the trip to Connecticut with the rest of the team.
Stony Brook carried over its hot 3-point shooting from the end of the Sacred Heart game into the opening minutes of Wednesday’s contest to take a 10-2 lead, but the Stags quickly made it competitive again to create a back-and-forth game for much of the first half. The Seawolves began to open up an advantage again late in the frame to go up 40-34 at the break.
Roberts, coming off the bench despite his heroic shot on Monday, came alive in the start of the second half to extend Stony Brook’s lead to 59-48. The redshirt junior guard set a new career high with 30 points on 12-for-21 shooting but never got a shot off in overtime.
Fairfield took a lead late in the second by finding easy lanes inside, but Stony Brook still had a chance to win it in regulation. Roberts swiped the ball away from the Stags and took it cross-court to tie the game at 71 with 42 seconds left, making up for Jenkins missing a pair of free throws right before. Senior forward Jaden Sayles blocked Fairfield’s next shot, allowing Stony Brook to hold for the final possession.
Roberts’ layup at the four-second mark could not go through, and redshirt junior guard Tykei Greene’s put-back attempt was not strong enough to go in.
Stony Brook shot 23% (6-for-26) in the final 16 minutes of Wednesday’s loss while getting out-rebounded and giving up at least 50% of field goal attempts again.
The Seawolves remain on the road for a date with the Ivy League preseason favorite Yale Bulldogs on Sunday, Nov. 28.