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Stony Brook men’s basketball wins sloppy game versus Rider

Shooting guard Jared Frey takes a three-pointer from the corner against Rider on Monday, Nov. 20. Frey made the Stony Brook men’s basketball team’s only three-pointer on Monday. CHRISTOPHER SCHULZ/THE STATESMAN

Despite shooting 1-for-19 from three-point territory, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team snapped its losing streak. 

The Seawolves (2-3) returned to Island Federal Arena to take on the Rider Broncs (1-4) on Monday evening. Stony Brook’s dismal shooting in the second half almost led to a blown 14-point lead, but crucial defensive possessions secured the team’s first victory over an NCAA Division I team this season.

The shooting woes were evident from the jump, as each of the Seawolves’ first three jump shots — all from beyond the arc — were airballed. They only connected on one of their first eight shots, but a 2-for-16 start by Rider bailed them out.

It was the second consecutive game in which Stony Brook missed 18 three-point field goals. The team’s 5.3% shooting mark from deep on Monday night brought its rate down to 29.5% this season.

Head coach Geno Ford jokingly blamed the shooting struggles on the players’ recovery from traveling.

“I think [the travel] really factored into the shooting, I really do,” Ford said in a postgame press conference. “You get folded up on a middle seat or an aisle seat on a flight out of Chicago heading to Omaha. I mean, I feel terrible getting off the thing and I’m short and fat.”

However, the Seawolves still managed to get the job done. An acrobatic layup followed by a made free throw by point guard Aaron Clarke capped off a 9-0 run, giving them a 20-8 lead 12 minutes into the contest. Stony Brook kept its foot on the gas for the remainder of the half, but the Broncs stayed within nine points going into halftime.

The Seawolves restored their 12-point lead just four and a half minutes into the second half, but their opponents hung with them. Rider power forward Mervin James spearheaded a 7-0 run to cut Stony Brook’s lead to 37-32 with 14 minutes remaining.

An 8-2 run gave the Seawolves some cushion. A smooth mid-range jumper by center Keenan Fitzmorris extended their lead to 11 points, but it was the last time they would find the scoring column for quite some time.

Stony Brook went scoreless for the next four minutes and 50 seconds, turning the ball over twice and going 0-for-4 from the field during the timeframe. The Broncs took advantage, riding an 8-0 stretch with three points from both James and center Tariq Ingraham to cut its deficit to 45-42 with 6:37 remaining.

A dunk by power forward Andre Snoddy with just over five minutes left ended the scoring drought, but the damage had been done. Snoddy picked the pocket of Rider power forward J.T. Langston Jr. on the ensuing possession but coughed it up in transition. Rider shooting guard Allen Powell scooped up the loose ball and finished an uncontested floater on the other end, stealing two points from Stony Brook. Another turnover by point guard Dean Noll on the following possession ended in a tough layup by James, making it a one-point game with 3:56 left.

Over the next minute, a pair of free throws by Fitzmorris was and a layup by Clarke extended Stony Brook’s lead to five. Another two clutch makes from the charity stripe by center Chris Maidoh made it 53-46 with 1:28 remaining.

Following Maidoh’s free throws, another layup by James got the Broncs back within two possessions and the Seawolves missed back-to-back shots to keep the game interesting. With the shot clock turned off, Rider small forward T.J. Weeks Jr. had an open lane to the basket. Clarke stepped in and took the hit as Weeks Jr.’s shot kissed off the glass and into the hoop, but a charge was called to seal Stony Brook’s win.

Clarke came off his man in the low post to wear Weeks Jr.’s blow and draw the offensive foul.

“I got caught on [James], he was trying to post me up,” Clarke said. “He kicked it over and somebody ran him off the line, and I just slid underneath and took the charge.”

Clarke led the team with 13 points on 4-of-14 shooting, going 0-for-6 from deep but 5-for-6 from the free-throw line. He also recorded five rebounds and three steals.

Fitzmorris was right behind Clarke in the scoring column, recording 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting along with three rebounds off the bench. Despite being relegated to a bench role after starting 29 games last season, that has not fazed him. He is averaging 7.4 points per game on 50% shooting.

“Whenever I step out to play, I give it my all,” Fitzmorris said. “You can control certain things, and you can’t control other things. My mantra is always, ‘I want to control the things I can control to the best of my abilities.’”

Noll, Snoddy and Maidoh all tallied eight points on the night. Snoddy pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds. Maidoh recorded five rebounds, two assists and a block. 

James led the game in scoring with 19 points on 8-of-15 shooting while also recording nine rebounds, two assists and a block. The Broncs’ next leading scorer — Ingraham — had only seven points.

The defense-heavy game saw Stony Brook shoot 34.0% from the field, just barely better than Rider’s 33.3%. It was the Seawolves’ lowest-scoring win since their 52-49 victory over Albany on Feb. 29, 2020.

Though the win might not have been pretty, Ford was thrilled to grab a victory at home.

“We needed a win in a bad way, it was a really hard-fought game,” Ford said. “I’m thrilled to death. This is the happiest I’ve been in a couple of years with a performance.”

The Seawolves were without small forward Tyler Stephenson-Moore — the team’s leading scorer — for the second consecutive game with an ankle injury. Ford said he will be out for “a while,” but he will have some time to rest over Stony Brook’s nine-day Thanksgiving break.

When the Seawolves return, they will head to Connecticut to take on the Yale Bulldogs on Wednesday, Nov. 29. Opening tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. The Bulldogs are 4-2 this season after beating Gardner-Webb 71-70 in overtime. They will face off with Rhode Island on Sunday before their matchup against Stony Brook.

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About the Contributor
Kenny Spurrell, Assistant Sports Editor
Kenny Spurrell is an Assistant Sports Editor of The Statesman. He is a senior English major and journalism minor at Stony Brook University. He began covering sports for The Statesman during the Fall 2021 semester. Since then, he has covered men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s lacrosse and football. His passion for sports derives from his many years of playing basketball, football and baseball. He is a Long Island native from Selden, N.Y. and has dreams of becoming a sports journalist.
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