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Stony Brook men’s basketball hangs on to seal win over Monmouth

Point guard Aaron Clarke drives through Monmouth’s defense on Thursday, Jan. 25. Clarke led the Stony Brook men’s basketball team to a win with 18 points. IRENE YIMMONGKOL/THE STATESMAN

By rolling out a different starting lineup, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team picked up its biggest win to date.

Behind four different double-digit scorers, the Seawolves (10-10, 3-4 CAA) defeated the Monmouth Hawks (10-10, 3-4 CAA) on Thursday night at Island Federal Arena. Thanks to a big first half by point guard Aaron Clarke and efficient shooting from the rest of the team, Stony Brook pulled off a 72-65 win.

Close games have been a detriment for the Seawolves lately, as multiple second-half collapses have plagued them. They flipped the narrative on Thursday by putting up a .600/.583/.688 shooting line in the second half to close out the victory.

After losing a heartbreaker to Hofstra on Monday, head coach Geno Ford was pleased that his team finally closed one out the right way.

“It’s kind of been Groundhog’s Day for us; we’ve been right there,” Ford said in a postgame press conference. “A lot of credit to our guys who stepped up and just didn’t want to be denied after a frustrating home loss on Monday.”

Stony Brook stumbled early, shooting just 32.1% from the field and 30% from deep in the first half, but it held the Hawks to a .250/.125/.833 triple slash to take a 24-20 lead into the break. Clarke carried the Seawolves’ dragging offense on his back with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 2-of-3 from deep. The Seawolves protected their lead for the first seven minutes of the second half, but Monmouth gained control at the 13-minute mark when small forward Jack Collins hit a free throw.

Five lead changes and two ties ensued over the next two and a half minutes, resulting in Stony Brook reclaiming the lead at the 10:23 mark with a catch-and-shoot three-pointer by Clarke. Power forward Andre Snoddy and center Chris Maidoh helped extend the lead to five points, but the Hawks cut it down to two with a pair of triples and two free throws from small forward Abdi Bashir Jr.

Over the next four possessions, the Seawolves slowed down Bashir Jr. by forcing a pair of missed threes before small forward Tyler Stephenson-Moore intercepted one of his passes. By shutting down Bashir Jr., Stony Brook halted Monmouth’s entire offense, holding it scoreless over the next three minutes after allowing it to get within two points.

During the three-minute drought, Stephenson-Moore knocked down a pair of three-pointers and a free throw to extend the Seawolves’ lead to 62-53 with just over three minutes left. The Hawks got one point back with a free throw from shooting guard Xander Rice, but Stony Brook turned to point guard Dean Noll to ice the game.

Noll slowed the pace on offense before driving the lane. He got trapped and attempted to pass it out, but the ball was deflected. However, he recovered the loose ball under the basket and hit a reverse layup to give his team a 10-point lead with 2:13 left. 

Despite a pair of late threes by Monmouth power forward Jaret Valencia and Collins, Stony Brook iced the game. A big mid-range jump shot off a deceiving pump fake by Noll made it a three-possession game with a minute left, and free throws by Snoddy and Stephenson-Moore tacked on the final touches.

Clarke led the way, scoring a game-high 18 points on 6-of-13 shooting and went 3-for-5 from deep. After multiple close losses this month, Clarke was relieved that his team was able to pull this win out.

“It’s not fun, every game coming out and leading most of the game and then losing by a couple of points,” Clarke said. “So it gives us good momentum knowing that we can play with any team in the league, but also win these games, too.”

Clarke came off the bench in favor of Snoddy and small forward Sabry Philip, with center Keenan Fitzmorris being the other Stony Brook player pulled from the starting five. Fitzmorris scored 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting, knocking down his only attempt from deep and from the free-throw line. He also added five rebounds and a block.

Stephenson-Moore and Noll also cracked double-digit scoring totals, with each tallying 12 points. Noll shot 4-for-10 from the field and led the team with four assists, three rebounds and a steal. Stephenson-Moore shot 3-for-8 overall and 3-for-5 from deep while collecting three assists and a steal.

Snoddy led the team with 10 rebounds and also picked up a block, a steal and two assists.

Stephenson-Moore fared well with his defensive assignment in Rice — the second-leading scorer in the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA). He held Rice to 18 points on 6-of-14 shooting and 2-of-8 from deep. As a collective, the Seawolves held the Hawks — the CAA’s best three-point shooting team — to just 37.9% from the field and 31.8% from beyond the arc.

Stony Brook will look to keep the ball rolling on Saturday versus the University of North Carolina Wilmington Seahawks. Opening tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m. The Seahawks are 14-5 overall and 5-2 in CAA play after a 77-53 victory over Northeastern on Thursday.

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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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