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Hot shooting guides Stony Brook men’s basketball to bounce-back victory

Small forward Tyler Stephenson-Moore leaps up for a dunk against Stonehill on Wednesday, Dec. 6. Stephenson-Moore led the Stony Brook men’s basketball team with 23 points in the win. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

Behind its best shooting performance of the season, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team bounced back with a comfortable win on Wednesday night.

The Seawolves (3-5) beat up on the Stonehill Skyhawks (1-9) at Island Federal Arena to wash last Saturday’s meltdown from memory. With great shooting from all three levels, Stony Brook won 81-63.

Both teams traded points back and forth through the first three minutes, but once the Seawolves found their stride, the game was over. With 16:49 left in the first half, point guard Dean Noll drained a three-pointer from the top of the key to ignite a big run that Stony Brook never looked back from. Including Noll’s three-pointer, the team hit four consecutive attempts from deep to go up 19-11 just five minutes into the game.

Stonehill followed the Seawolves’ parade of threes with an 8-2 run, led by four points from shooting guard Chas Stinson to make it 21-19. However, with a chance to make it a one-point game, Stinson missed his second free throw, which Stony Brook capitalized on. Shooting guard Toby Onyekonwu found small forward Tyler Stephenson-Moore on the right wing, who found his spot and knocked down a mid-range jump shot to double the team’s lead.

Stephenson-Moore’s bucket sparked a 22-9 run to take a 15-point lead into halftime. He capped the run off himself with a three-pointer and a pair of free throws during the half’s final minute.

This time around, the Seawolves held onto their big lead, which greatly pleased head coach Geno Ford.

“Great win for us — we needed one,” Ford said in a postgame press conference. “We were [almost] in the exact same score and we were able to go out in the second half and play really well.”

The Skyhawks opened the second half with a three-pointer from power forward Louis Semona as the shot clock wound down to open their comeback window. Stony Brook answered with back-to-back three pointers from Noll and Stephenson-Moore to increase the lead to 18 points, which is where things remained for much of the remaining game.

The Seawolves were determined to not let a comeback happen again. With 13:50 left in the game, Stonehill shooting guard Thatcher Stone drove down the lane on the fast break, but center Keenan Fitzmorris ferociously blocked his layup to preserve the then-15-point cushion.

The lead continued to grow from there. With just over six minutes remaining, center Chris Maidoh bullied his way into the post and spun to his left side for the layup to give Stony Brook a 20-point lead. Over a minute later, power forward Andre Snoddy knocked down a pair of free throws to complete a 10-0 run and hand the Seawolves a 74-52 lead — their largest of the night.

Within the final two minutes, Ford emptied the bench and let the reserves close out the dominant win.

Stony Brook shot a season-best 46.4% from the field and knocked down three-pointers at a 43.3% clip. The Seawolves tore apart the Skyhawks’ 3-2 zone defense, as their bigs’ dominance inside helped open up the three-point game.

“Just by Chris and Fitz posting as hard as they post, they were drawing two or three guys in,” Ford said. “Some of the threes we had were wide open and a lot of it was created by the physicality of Chris and Fitz on the block.”

Maidoh scored six points on 3-of-4 shooting and led the team with seven rebounds, three of which came on the offensive glass. He also rejected two shots. Fitzmorris scored 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting, hauled in six rebounds (five offensive) and blocked three shots. He got to the free-throw line several times, where he made five of his six attempts.

Going into the game, Fitzmorris made it a point to be physical in the post to break down Stonehill’s zone defense to help create open looks for his team. 

“It was a big emphasis going into this game to steal bodies and not just be in the area but be physical.” Fitzmorris said.

The Seawolves were plenty physical, as they outrebounded the Skyhawks 43-27. Snoddy led the effort with eight rebounds.

Stephenson-Moore led all scorers with 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting, knocking down five of his nine three-pointers during the process. Shooting guard Jared Frey scored 12 points while shooting 4-for-12, with all but one shot coming from three-point range. Noll finished with 10 points on 3-of-7 and also took all but one of his shots from deep.

Onyekonwu was impactful off the bench. He scored nine points on 4-of-10 shooting and also grabbed six rebounds. His five assists co-led the team alongside Frey.

Stony Brook was physical on defense as well, as it held its opponents to a .377/.345/.636 shooting line. Stonehill point guard Tony Felder led his team with 11 points while shooting 4-for-9.

The Seawolves will remain at home to host their America East Conference heirs — the Bryant Bulldogs — on Saturday at 6:31 p.m. The Bulldogs are 6-4 this season after a 67-51 win against Siena on Wednesday. The last time these two teams met, Bryant broke its program record for three-pointers in a single game.

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