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Stony Brook men’s basketball rides Maidoh’s career night to third-straight win

Center Chris Maidoh throws down a slam dunk against Norfolk State on Wednesday, Dec. 13. Maidoh posted career highs in both points and rebounds in the victory. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

A career night from center Chris Maidoh helped the Stony Brook men’s basketball team mount another comeback victory.

The Seawolves (5-5) hosted the Norfolk State Spartans (7-4) on Wednesday night at Island Federal Arena to finish their four-game homestand. Behind some sharp and clutch shooting late in the second half, Stony Brook improved to .500 and won its third consecutive game with an 84-78 triumph.

After an even first seven minutes, Norfolk State point guard Jamarii Thomas knocked down a turnaround jump shot from the elbow to start a 9-2 run that gave his team a 17-11 lead. Just past 12 minutes into the game, the Spartans stretched their lead to 10 with three-pointers from small forward Daryl Anderson and power forward Allen Betrand.

After those threes, the Seawolves got hot from deep themselves to shave their deficit down. Three-pointers by shooting guards Jared Frey and Toby Onyekonwu alongside small forward Tyler Stephenson-Moore sparked a 15-6 run, making it a one-point game. Within the final 90 seconds of the first half, Thomas swung the pendulum back in the Spartans’ favor with a stepback jumper from mid-range and later hit two free throws to cap a 7-0 run.

After Thomas’ free throws, Frey chucked the ball to power forward Leon Nahar on the right wing, who knocked down a triple with just three seconds left to make it 39-35 by halftime.

Stony Brook contested most of Norfolk State’s shots in the first half, yet it still surrendered a 56% shooting percentage and a 60% clip from three-point range. Head coach Geno Ford liked his defense’s effort and tipped his hat to the Spartans for good shotmaking.

“Good offense beats good defense and you can be in the right position, but if the guy makes the shot … it’s considered bad defense,” Ford said in a postgame press conference. “I thought they hit some really tough [threes]. I thought their role guys hurt us because they brought in shooting off the bench and those spot-up shooters drilled threes on us.”

Norfolk State stayed one step ahead of the Seawolves through the first six minutes of the second half, as a mid-range jumper by point guard Christian Ings grew its lead to seven points. However, Stony Brook’s offense took control and started scoring from all three levels. A mid-range jumper by point guard Dean Noll, three-pointers from Frey and Stephenson-Moore and four free throws by center Keenan Fitzmorris saw the Seawolves knot it at 59 all.

With less than eight minutes remaining in the game, power forward Andre Snoddy missed a layup, but Fitzmorris was there to grab the board and slam it back home to go up 61-59. The Spartans continued to try and recapture their lead, but missed free throws by Thomas and power forward Tyrel Bladen forced them to settle for a deadlock at 61.

Missed free throws by Frey, Maidoh and Stephenson-Moore also plagued Stony Brook, but they each hit one to take a 64-61 lead. Betrand cut the Seawolves’ lead down to one by hitting a pair of free throws with 4:10 left, but they responded right away with consecutive threes from Noll and Frey to go up 70-63.

With 2:36 remaining, Norfolk State small forward Tyrese Jenkins responded by hitting a triple of his own to make it a four-point game. On the ensuing possession, Noll responded by walking the tightrope on the left baseline and sinking a running floater to grow the lead to six points. Just 15 seconds later, Stephenson-Moore drained a catch-and-shoot three from the corner to put Stony Brook up by nine.

After Jenkins missed a three-pointer on the following series, the Spartans were forced to intentionally foul. Free throws by Maidoh, Stephenson-Moore and Fitzmorris put the game on ice.

Ford was pleased with the way his players closed out the game.

“To be honest, it’s as good as we’ve played when it’s really mattered,” Ford said.

Maidoh finished the game with a career-high 19 points on 6-of-7 shooting while sinking seven of his nine free throws. His previous career high was 13 points, which he reached twice with Fairfield. He also pulled down a career-high 12 rebounds, giving him the second double-double of his career.

He credits his career-best performance to playing on offense with the same mindset that he keeps on defense.

“I was able to be more aggressive,” Maidoh said. “My teammates [and] coaches, they wanted me to become more aggressive — as aggressive I am on defense. I was just waiting to have a good game, it finally came so now we have to build off of it.” 

Stephenson-Moore continued his hot streak, scoring 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting while knocking down five out of his eight three-pointers. Fitzmorris’ performance was crucial, as he racked up 16 points, five rebounds and a team-leading two steals. He shot just 3-for-5 from the field, but he was perfect from the free-throw line in 10 attempts.

Frey was the Seawolves’ fourth double-digit scorer, totaling 12 points on 4-of-10 shooting. He went 3-for-8 beyond the arc. He also co-led the team with three assists alongside Maidoh and Fitzmorris.

Both teams shot the ball well, but ultimately Stony Brook made the more important shots. The Seawolves posted a .510/.407/.778 shooting line while Norfolk State finished with a .500/.417/.737 triple slash.

Stony Brook had no answer for Thomas, who dropped 28 points on 9-of-11 shooting, including 5-of-6 three-point shooting.

The Seawolves will now hit the road for their next matchup and take on the Army Black Knights in West Point, N.Y. on Sunday. The Black Knights are 2-8 this season after suffering a 70-64 defeat to Harvard last Friday. Opening tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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