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Stony Brook men’s basketball blows big lead in chippy home game

Small forward Tyler Stephenson-Moore directs traffic from half-court against Wagner on Saturday, Dec. 2. Stephenson-Moore scored 16 points in the loss. STANLEY ZHENG/THE STATESMAN


After taking a 16-point lead in the first half, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team melted down after halftime.

The Seawolves (2-5) took on the Wagner Seahawks (3-4) at Island Federal Arena on Saturday. Poor second-half defense and free-throw shooting killed Stony Brook, handing it a heartbreaking 60-59 loss.

The Seawolves came out firing, sinking six of their first eight shots to take a 12-point lead less than five minutes into the contest. With just over three minutes left before halftime, shooting guard Jared Frey found small forward Tyler Stephenson-Moore with a full-court pass, who sunk a mid-range jump shot to put them up 32-16. Stony Brook took a 34-21 lead into the break while holding Wagner to 25% shooting from the field.

In a game that looked to be a surefire victory for the Seawolves, head coach Geno Ford was crestfallen over the defeat.

“The loss — it makes me physically ill to be quite honest because of how disappointing it was,” Ford said in a postgame press conference. “Bad job coaching, bad job playing. Worse job coaching. We have to get them ready and we weren’t in the second half.”

The second half was a totally different game. After the Seahawks scored on their first possession, they rolled out a press defense that gave Stony Brook issues immediately. When Frey coughed the ball up within the first minute of the period, Ford called a timeout to avoid a momentum shift.

The timeout did not work as intended, as it was immediately followed by a turnover from Stephenson-Moore on the backcourt. The turnovers gave Wagner the energy it needed. The Seahawks cut the Seawolves’ lead down to six points through the first six minutes of the second half.

With 14:07 remaining, Wagner’s defense prevented Stony Brook from getting the ball inbounds, forcing Ford to call another timeout to avoid a five-second violation. After the play was blown dead, power forward Andre Snoddy got into a skirmish in front of the Seahawks’ bench and exchanged words with them.

The incident was a culmination of some chippiness throughout the game, and Ford made it clear that he was not a fan of Wagner’s approach.

“That’s who they are, that’s what they do, that’s their M.O.,” Ford said. “Our guys aren’t angels, but it gets to a point, as a competitor you’re not going to let guys constantly instigate.”

After Snoddy was pulled out of a sea of black jerseys, the rowdy Seahawks took over. A three-pointer by Wagner point guard Javier Ezquerra and a layup by fellow point guard Melvin Council Jr. cut Stony Brook’s lead down to one point. With 10:46 remaining, Wagner shooting guard Zaire Williams drew a foul while shooting a three-pointer and knocked down all three free throws to tie the game at 45.

The Seawolves regained control after a layup by center Chris Maidoh, but a three-pointer by Council Jr. with 8:55 remaining gave the Seahawks their first lead of the day. Stony Brook tied the game three times in the next several minutes, and a turnaround jumper in the paint by Frey gave it a one-point lead with less than two minutes left. However, 42 seconds later, a foul by Snoddy sent Wagner power forward Tyje Kelton to the line, where he put his team on top by draining both free throws.

Within the final minute, point guard Dean Noll turned it over on an inbound pass, forcing the Seawolves to intentionally foul the Seahawks. Williams missed his one-and-one, but an empty possession for Stony Brook forced another intentional foul. Wagner point guard Julian Brown — an 88.9% free-throw shooter — missed his foul shot as well, and Snoddy corralled the rebound with 19 seconds to play.

With one last breath, Snoddy got the ball to Frey, who raced up the floor and attempted a long two-pointer, but it rimmed out and was gathered by the Seahawks.

The Seawolves had a timeout remaining, but Ford chose not to use it ahead of the crucial offensive possession. He attributed that to their turnover troubles and said he regrets not using it earlier.

“Well I was going to use it, but the last time we tried to throw the ball inbounds we turned it over,” Ford said. “Late game execution, that always falls on the coach. Should we have called timeout in hindsight? Of course.”

Stony Brook had a slim chance to score after another missed free throw by Wagner, but Snoddy failed to get the ball up the floor and turned it over as the buzzer sounded.

Wagner traded a .250/.177/.000 triple slash in the first half for a .539/.429/.500 in the second. On the other side, the Seawolves turned a .438/.308/.500 line into .407/.143/.333 after halftime.

The final statistics revealed some daunting numbers for Stony Brook, headlined by its zero steals for the whole game. It turned the ball over 14 times to the Seahawks’ six and shot just 4-for-10 from the charity stripe.

Ford attributed some of those struggles to point guard Aaron Clarke’s absence, who missed Saturday’s game with a sprained ankle. His timetable for return is unclear, but Ford said it should be sometime soon.

Stephenson-Moore had his best game of the season, scoring a game-high 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting. He pulled down four rebounds and registered a career-high three blocks.

Despite his performance, Stephenson-Moore was not happy with the performance and took the blame for the loss.

“I’ll take credit for what happened; I feel like I let fatigue get the best of me,” Stephenson-Moore said. “I’ll take full responsibility for this one. I felt like my energy as a leader, five years in, wasn’t really the best.”

Snoddy led the Seawolves with nine rebounds and rejected two shots, while Noll pulled down eight rebounds. For the second-straight game, Frey led the team in assists, dishing out four.

Council Jr. and Ezquerra co-led Wagner with 13 points. Council pulled down six rebounds while Ezquerra tallied five assists and three steals.

The Seawolves will look to get back on track on Wednesday when they will host the Stonehill Skyhawks at 6:31 p.m. The Skyhawks are 1-8 this season after losing 79-64 to Binghamton on Saturday.

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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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