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Stony Brook men’s basketball hangs on to win nonconference finale

Point guard Aaron Clarke drives the lane against Rider on Nov. 20. Clarke led the Stony Brook men’s basketball in scoring for the second time in three games, leading it to a win over Brown. ANGELINA LIVIGNI/THE STATESMAN

With its nonconference schedule coming to an end, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team wrapped it up on a high note.

After getting a week off for Christmas, the Seawolves (7-6) remained celebratory when they defeated the Brown Bears (4-10) 69-65 at Island Federal Arena on Friday night. Stony Brook nearly blew a 16-point lead in the second half, but key defensive stands helped it fend off Brown in the closing minutes to get out unscathed.

After entering halftime trailing 34-33, the Seawolves came out red hot on the back of point guard Aaron Clarke. At the start of the second half, Clarke flipped the momentum in their favor by draining a deep three-pointer to regain the lead. The bucket jump-started a 22-6 run that gave them a 55-40 lead with under 12 minutes remaining.

During the stretch, Clarke carried the offense on his back, scoring 10 on four very tough shots. Not only did he drain a pair of 30-foot three-pointers, but he also knocked down a contested baseline jump shot and a layup through hard contact.

Clarke attributed his tough shotmaking to playing with a hard-nosed approach.

“I feel like when I’m trying to be aggressive, it’s not just me scoring,” Clarke said in a postgame press conference. “I feel like when I’m aggressive, I help the team in multiple ways. Just trying to stay aggressive and get back to what I know how to do.”

Stony Brook kept its foot on the gas and went downhill to stay in front. As the clock ticked under seven minutes remaining, shooting guard Jared Frey hit a heavily-contested fadeaway jumper in the paint to give his team a 16-point lead — its largest of the night.

After Frey’s shot, three consecutive misses and a turnover by the Seawolves opened the door for an 8-0 run by the Bears. A slick move to the rim and finish by center Chris Maidoh restored a 10-point lead for Stony Brook with 3:42 remaining, but the advantage was far from comfortable.

After Maidoh’s bucket, Brown point guard Kino Lilly Jr. was fouled on a three-point attempt and knocked down all three free throws to cut the Seawolves’ lead down to seven. After getting a stop on the other end, Lilly Jr. kissed a runner off the glass to make it 67-62 with just 2:26 left. He took another two three-pointers over the next minute, but he missed both of them, keeping Stony Brook in front.

With just 1:18 remaining, the Bears intentionally fouled Maidoh to award him a one-and-one opportunity. He missed the first, allowing Brown to grab the defensive rebound and feed it to center Nana Owusu-Anane, who sunk a layup to cut it to 67-64.

A quick foul on Frey forced another one-and-one, and he also squandered the opportunity to give the Bears a chance. However, a good closeout by small forward Tyler Stephenson-Moore forced Lilly Jr.’s corner three to skid off the front of the rim. Brown power forward Kalu Anya corralled the offensive rebound and the team called its final timeout with just over 17 seconds left.

Off the inbound, Lilly Jr. drove the lane and bounced it over to Anya, who was hacked by Clarke. Anya made the first free throw but missed the second, and the Bears tapped the ball out of bounds as they tried to recover it. Frey successfully inbounded the ball to Clarke, who was intentionally fouled before icing the game by knocking down a pair at the line.

Head coach Geno Ford attributed the near-meltdown to complacency by the players.

“Sometimes it’s hard to play with a lead because it’s human nature that you’re going to let off the gas a touch,” Ford said. “Tough opponent to be honest. We’re lucky we had the cushion we had, which was obviously just enough there to get us over the hump.”

Clarke led the way for the Seawolves, scoring a game-high 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting. He connected three times from deep in seven tries and shot a perfect 4-for-4 from the charity stripe. He also contributed six rebounds and two steals.

Center Keenan Fitzmorris continued his stellar play with another good performance. He scored a season-high 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting, pulled down four rebounds, dished out two assists and blocked one shot.

Ford called Fitzmorris a mismatch for opposing defenses.

“He’s a hard guy to guard one-on-one,” Ford said. “We have enough shooting … so it allows guys to play one-on-one on the box. Today [Fitzmorris] was really, really good for us.”

Power forward Andre Snoddy did everything for Stony Brook, tallying five points, eight rebounds (three offensive), an assist, a steal and a block on 50% shooting. He was instrumental in reviving possessions and/or keeping his team alive after forced pickups. On two separate occasions, he prevented turnovers by racing towards the sideline to recover loose balls.

Ford had high praise for Snoddy’s effort.

“I thought he had a whale of a game,” Ford said. “I thought he was awesome. To me, it’s the best game he’s had all year.”

Maidoh was very involved, contributing 10 points on 5-of-8 shooting and five rebounds. Point guard Dean Noll had a tough night, but he co-led the team with four assists alongside Frey, who hit a pair of threes and scored eight points while shooting 3-for-7.

Lilly Jr. led Brown with 19 points but shot only 7-for-25 from the field and 2-for-12 from deep. Shooting guard Kimo Ferrari totaled 10 points on 3-of-4 shooting along with seven boards, four assists and a steal. Small forward Aaron Cooley scored 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting and hauled in seven rebounds off the bench. Anya led his team with 10 rebounds.

Stony Brook will now open up Coastal Athletic Association play in Boston on Thursday against the Northeastern Huskies. Opening tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. The Huskies are 5-7 on the season and will match up with Rhode Island on Saturday before their game against the Seawolves.

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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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