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Stony Brook men’s basketball wins overtime battle with William & Mary

Guard Tyler Stephenson-Moore shooting a fadeaway jump shot against William & Mary on Thursday, Feb. 16. Stephenson-Moore led the Stony Brook men’s basketball team in scoring on Thursday, leading it to a win in overtime. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

In the Stony Brook men’s basketball team’s first overtime game since November 2021, clutch defense and precision shooting led the Seawolves to an electric win.

The Seawolves (10-18, 6-9 CAA) put in some extra work on Thursday night to beat the William & Mary Tribe in front of their hometown fans. Guided by one of its best shooting performances of the season, Stony Brook defeated the Tribe 71-66 in overtime.

Though the Seawolves missed a chance to close out the game in regulation, they were still able to earn a gritty win.

“Really proud of our guys for bouncing back from a disappointing end of regulation,” head coach Geno Ford said in a postgame press conference. “We showed some toughness and some character. It’s a big win for us.” 

The Tribe came into the game as the best three-point shooting team in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). Stony Brook held them at bay in the first half, allowing them to take a 30-24 lead into the break. However, William & Mary found its three-point rhythm in the second half, allowing it to cut Stony Brook’s lead to just four points with less than seven minutes to play.

After the Tribe got within four points, both teams fell into a three-minute scoring drought. Guard Kaine Roberts snapped the drought at the 3:21 mark when he beat the shot clock and knocked down a three-pointer, giving Stony Brook a seven-point lead. 

After another scoreless stretch that lasted for over two minutes, the Tribe made a triple of their own with 1:07 remaining to get back within four points of Stony Brook.

After drawing a foul with 38 seconds left, guard Tyler Stephenson-Moore was sent to the free-throw line, but was unable to extend the Seawolves’ thin lead and missed both shots. Just 14 seconds later, Stephenson-Moore committed an untimely personal foul that allowed William & Mary to convert two free throws and halve Stony Brook’s lead.

With 12 seconds left, William & Mary tied the game at 62 apiece with a second-chance layup by center Ben Wright. Stony Brook had one final chance to win it in regulation, but Stephenson-Moore came up empty-handed, sending the game into overtime.

The Seawolves came out hot in the extra frame with a quick bucket from forward Frankie Policelli. Just inside of two minutes into overtime, center Keenan Fitzmorris doubled Stony Brook’s lead by hitting a shot after using some fancy footwork under the rim to get loose. After a stepback jumper by Roberts with 2:16 left, the Seawolves led by six. 

Stony Brook made big plays on the defensive end, holding the Tribe scoreless until Wright made a layup with 1:16 remaining. William & Mary guard Chris Mullins cut Stony Brook’s lead to just three points with nine seconds remaining. However, Stephenson-Moore found some redemption from the charity stripe and secured the win with a pair of free throw makes.

Though Stephenson-Moore struggled during the closing minutes of the second half, his teammates supported him, which helped him finish the game on a stronger note.

“Teammates did a big job,” Stephenson-Moore said. “Especially after that intentional foul, I was really down, but my teammates just picked it up and the coaches all picked it up. We just came in with the right energy.”

The game was loaded with highlight-reel plays and big runs, as both sides came out of the locker rooms ready to score.

Stephenson-Moore got the crowd off its feet early with an emphatic slam just over three and a half minutes into the game. 

Despite an exciting start, the Tribe continued to answer, as Stony Brook only led 13-11 through the first 10 minutes.

Countering the Tribe’s stinginess, Stony Brook continued its strong first half. After not making a shot on Monday at Delaware, Stephenson-Moore shot 4-for-6 from the field through the opening 11 minutes of the half. With 9:44 left, he knocked down a short fadeaway in the paint before following that with a three-pointer. After that, forward Leon Nahar nailed a three-pointer that gave the Seawolves a 10-point lead with 8:36 remaining.

Though they were struggling from deep, the Tribe found holes within the arc, scoring efficiently inside to cut Stony Brook’s lead to five points with 2:03 remaining. Luckily for the Seawolves, a pair of massive blocks from center Rocco Muratori within the final three seconds preserved their 30-24 lead going into halftime. 

Coming out of halftime, William & Mary went on an 8-4 run to cut Stony Brook’s lead down to two points. A block by Fitzmorris with 15:25 left denied William & Mary an opportunity to tie the game, and the rejection led to a Stephenson-Moore three-pointer.

Just 35 seconds later, Fitzmorris blocked another shot and followed with a big dunk. With 13:45 remaining, Stephenson-Moore connected from deep again to give the Seawolves another 10-point lead.

The big plays and energy that Fitzmorris provided helped Stony Brook take home the win. He had a good night on offense, scoring 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting. He also had a monster night on the defensive side, with a career-high four blocks and one steal.

“I’ve got to thank the coaches for helping me work on the defensive end,” Fitzmorris said. “I think I’ve always been a little more offensively minded. I’m trying to work on that side of the ball. I still have a long way to go, and I’m excited to keep making progress. But I’ve just got to thank the coaches for their help.” 

As a team, Stony Brook shot 49.1% from the field and a whopping 47.4% from deep. Stephenson-Moore led the team with 17 points on 6-of-15 shooting and added five assists. Policelli racked up another double-double, scoring 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting while pulling down 10 rebounds and dishing out four assists.

The Seawolves look to maintain their winning ways this Saturday at home against the Hofstra Pride. Round two of the Battle of Long Island will tip off at 6:31 p.m. Hofstra is currently sitting in second place in the CAA at 21-8 overall and are 14-2 in conference play. The Pride have won nine in a row and are coming off a 73-43 blowout win over Hampton.

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