On the road against its bitter rival, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team used a strong second half despite only seven players seeing court time to put away the Albany Great Danes 86-75 on Saturday, Jan. 22.
Stony Brook (12-6, 4-1 AE) had an all-around impressive night on offense, shooting 48% from three, 56% from the floor and 86% at the line to climb back into second place in the America East standings. Albany (7-11, 3-3 AE) scored 23 second-chance points off 15 offensive rebounds to remain competitive for much of the contest before the Seawolves pulled away late.
“We kept talking in those timeouts to weather the storm and stick with our gameplan,” head coach Geno Ford said in a press release. “We’ve had a little tendency to get disjointed when things aren’t going well for us but tonight we didn’t do that and hopefully that’s a big sign of growth for us going forward. I thought Albany played well. The difference in the game was 3-point shooting. Excited for our guys. It was a really hard-fought win.”
With graduate guard Omar Habwe injuring his ankle during pregame warmups and graduate guard Elijah Olaniyi out indefinitely in the midst of his leave of absence from the team, Stony Brook played only seven men. Five of them scored in double figures, led by redshirt junior guard Anthony Roberts’ 18 off the bench. Had redshirt junior guard Juan Felix Rodriguez scored one more point, it would have been six players.
Early on, the Great Danes took control of the game, opening up a nine-point lead as a result of success from beyond the arc. The Seawolves’ offense began to light up once Roberts got on the board nine minutes in. Using his speed to the basket as well as his outside shot, Roberts helped Stony Brook close the gap and the team took their first lead of the contest at 33-31 following a 3-point play from senior forward Jaden Sayles.
Up 40-35 at halftime, Stony Brook kicked things into high gear to begin the second period. Back-to-back triples from graduate guard Jahlil Jenkins and redshirt sophomore guard Tyler Stephenson-Moore kick-started a run of eight consecutive Seawolves points and created a 50-39 lead.
Stony Brook hovered around that margin for most of the second half, but Albany cut into the double-digit hole with two straight 3-pointers of its own. One came from Great Danes freshman forward Aaron Reddish, the brother of former Duke star and top-10 NBA draft pick Cam Reddish, which trimmed Albany’s deficit to 64-60.
Sayles, who entered the game shooting 50% from the line on the season, helped halt the Danes’ momentum by making four free throws in a row to build back Stony Brook’s lead. The Seawolves’ advantage grew to 15 points late as Albany turned on the full-court press, needing turnovers to overcome the insurmountable margin. They began intentionally fouling with two minutes remaining.
Since getting manhandled on the road by Vermont last Wednesday, the Seawolves have won three straight. The streak has carried Stony Brook back to second place in the America East standings. However, looking down on them at the top spot is the same Catamounts team that just smothered them.
Stony Brook has a chance to get its revenge in the rematch with Vermont on Wednesday, Jan. 26 at 7 p.m.