In its home finale, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team could not avoid a season sweep in the Battle of Long Island.
After a thrilling overtime win on Thursday, the Seawolves (10-19, 6-10 CAA) faced off against the Hofstra Pride on Saturday in a packed Island Federal Arena. Though it took a six-point lead into halftime, Stony Brook fell to its Long Island rivals 68-65.
It was a competitive first half, with neither team leading by more than seven points at any given time. Hofstra forward German Plotnikov tied the game at 17 with a three-point play with 7:02 remaining in the half. The game remained tied for the next minute until forward Kenan Sarvan hit a three-pointer to break the tie. Guard Tyler Stephenson-Moore followed Sarvan with a mid-range jumper to put the Seawolves up by five points, but Hofstra kept fighting.
Sarvan and Stephenson-Moore stayed hot and knocked down back-to-back three-pointers to help grow Stony Brook’s lead to six with just 2:20 remaining. With 1:29 before halftime, Sarvan was fouled while shooting a three and knocked down all three free throws to give Stony Brook a seven-point lead.
A three-pointer by Hofstra forward Darlinstone Dubar with 1:14 remaining hurt Stony Brook’s momentum, but Stephenson-Moore took charge in the closing seconds to regain it. As the clock wound down to zero, Stephenson-Moore fired up the crowd of over 4,000 with a buzzer-beating layup to hand the Seawolves a six-point lead going to the second half.
The second half was much like the first half, as Stony Brook and Hofstra went blow-for-blow. The final frame featured three ties and three lead changes, the final of which went to Hofstra.
The Seawolves held on to their narrow lead until the clock ticked inside of nine minutes. With 8:34 remaining in the second half, Hofstra guard Bryce Washington tipped a pass that forward Warren Williams scooped up. Williams went coast-to-coast on the fast break and converted on a layup with 8:14 to go, giving the Pride their first lead of the game since the first half.
The Pride held the lead for the next four minutes until Stephenson-Moore took control again. After hitting a tough reverse layup with just over five minutes remaining, Stephenson-Moore came back and hit a mid-range jumper to put Stony Brook back in front 58-57. This jumper gave Stephenson-Moore 27 points, setting a new career high.
“I think everybody that comes to our games can tell that Tyler is the best athlete on our team, because he was juiced up and got the adrenaline going, ”head coach Geno Ford said in a postgame press conference.
Stony Brook’s lead was short-lived, as Hofstra guard Tyler Thomas knocked down a pair of free throws just 17 seconds later. Dunbar gave the Pride a significant boost of energy when he converted on a second-chance layup to extend their lead to three points with just 2:46 remaining.
Hofstra’s defense suffocated the Seawolves after the Stephenson-Moore go-ahead jumper, holding them scoreless over the next three minutes and 39 seconds. With 1:06 remaining, Williams took the wind out of Stony Brook’s sails with a vicious slam dunk to give the Pride a six-point lead.
Forward Frankie Policelli snapped Stony Brook’s scoreless streak with a free throw make with just 44 seconds remaining. However, he missed the second one, leading to a defensive rebound and a foul on Hofstra guard Aaron Estrada.
Estrada put the game completely out of reach for Stony Brook, knocking down a pair of free throws to give Stony Brook a three-possession deficit with just 38 seconds remaining. The Seawolves did not have any late-game heroics left in them and ultimately fell, giving Hofstra its 10th straight win.
Ford commended Hofstra and attributed the loss partially to fatigue from the overtime win on Thursday.
“Disappointing loss against a really good Hofstra team,” Ford said in the postgame press conference. “There is a reason why they have won as much as they have. Thought our legs were a factor from Thursday’s overtime game and where we just are in terms of the rotation.”
The Seawolves shot the ball well from three-point range in the first half, going 4-for-12 (33.3%). However, that success did not carry into the second half, as they shot only 2-of-14 from deep after halftime.
Despite the loss, Stony Brook’s shot defense was strong. Though the Pride are the third-best three-point shooting team in the conference, Stony Brook held them to just 20.8% from deep. Hofstra also leads the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) in field goal percentage, but the Seawolves held them to just 38.9% shooting on the night.
The Pride had four players score in the double digits on Saturday. Thomas led the team with 23 points on 8-for-11 shooting. Williams was the second-leading scorer on the team with 12 points on 4-for-4 shooting.
Dubar contributed another 11 points on 4-of-7. He was Hofstra’s only threat from deep, going 3-for-5 from three-point range. He also tallied two blocks and a steal. Estrada — the CAA’s leading scorer — shot only 1-for-12 from the field. However, he did go 8-for-9 from the free-throw line, reaching 10 points during the game’s final minute.
Outside of Stephenson-Moore’s 27 points on 12-for-21 shooting, no Seawolves individually stood out. Center Keenan Fitzmorris quietly had a good day, scoring 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting. Policelli only scored four points on 1-of-8 shooting, but he led the team with 10 rebounds and six assists.
Stony Brook will be on the road for the final two games of the regular season. The team’s next game will be this Thursday against the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) Seahawks. The Seahawks are 21-8 this season and 11-5 in conference play, which is good for third place in the CAA. Opening tip-off will be at 7 p.m.