It might have been the final game at Pritchard Gymnasium before Stony Brook moves into their $21.1 million renovated arena, but senior Dave Coley was not going to let it be a loss.
Going into halftime up one on Albany, the Seawolves did not lead until the Brooklyn senior drained a three-pointer from the left wing to put Stony Brook up 58-55 with 4:09 left.
“Once you hit one and then you hit two, then the basket looks like an ocean now,” Coley said. “My teammates were able to find me, keep me going with the hot hand and I was fortunate to knock some down.”
Coley’s next three-pointer, on the Seawolves next possession, would give Stony Brook a 61-55 lead and cap a 16-0 run. The Seawolves would extend that lead to nine after an Anthony Jackson three-pointer from the top of the key to go up 66-57, but Albany would answer and cut the lead to three on Peter Hooley’s three-pointer with 13 seconds remaining to cut the game to 71-68. Stony Brook iced the game at the line and won what could be their final home game this season 73-68 in front of a sellout crowd.
Five Seawolves reached double-digit points with Coley leading the way with 17 points. Seniors Anthony Jackson and Eric McAlister both registered 13 points, while Ahmad Walker added 11 points off the bench and Jameel Warney added 10 points.
Stony Brook shot 48.1% from the field and made 15 of their 21 free throws, but just eight of their 14 chances in the second half. Seawolves head coach Steve Pikiell said he was happy to see his team win the free throw battle after getting to the line just nine times in their first meeting.
“I thought we did a good job of winning the battle from the free throw line,” Pikiell said. “The last time we played them, we we’re destroyed from the free throw line.”
D.J. Evans, Peter Hooley and Sam Rowley all had 15 points for the Great Danes, who finish fourth in the America East and will play UMBC in the conference tournament. The Seawolves clinched the second seed with their loss to Vermont on Thursday and will play Maine on Saturday night.
The Great Danes opened the second half on a 10-4 run to go up five on Stony Brook and picked it up from there, leading by as many as 10 during the second half. Gary Johnson’s layup put Albany up 53-43 and his free throws gave the Great Danes a 55-45 lead. That would be the largest lead the Great Danes would have on the day.
Stony Brook responded with an 8-0 run, capped by a Coley three-pointer from the left wing to cut the lead to 55-53 with 5:39 left. On the ensuing Albany possession, the senior Coley drew an offensive foul on sophomore Peter Hooley.
“That got me going, once you get a couple of defensive stops or any type of defensive play in that type of environment and that time in the game, it was huge,” Coley said. “Then to come down and hit a three is even bigger, so the energy was great. The crowd had a lot to do with that.”
After a Seawolves timeout, Pikiell inserted Jameel Warney with foul fouls and after he drew a double-team the sophomore dished it to senior Eric McAlister who made a layup high off the glass to tie the game at 55.
Albany opened the game on an 11-2 run, troubling the Seawolves with their 1-2-2 press as much as they did in their first meeting. The Stony Brook seniors would storm back and take a 26-20 lead even when it seemed impossible. Jackson, losing the ball in the paint on the offensive end, tipped the ball out to Coley on the left wing and his three-pointer was nothing but net.
The 12-2 run put Stony Brook up six, they would lead by as many as eight in the half after a Jackson jumper on the right baseline put them up 33-25, but the Great Danes closed the gap with a 9-2 run capped by a layup from Evans to trail by one at halftime.
The Seawolves finish with 12 home wins this season and are 37-3 in the last 40 games at Pritchard Gym.
Ryan Restivo covers the America East conference, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.