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Stony Brook men’s basketball seeks revenge in round two against Hofstra

The Stony Brook men’s basketball team’s bench prepares to celebrate as shooting guard Jared Frey (24) attempts a three against the University of North Carolina Wilmington on Saturday, Jan. 27. The Seawolves will take on Hofstra tomorrow night. MACKENZIE YADDAW/THE STATESMAN

Following a thrilling overtime victory last Saturday week, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team is seeking revenge in a rematch of the Battle of Long Island.

After losing the first matchup at home on Jan. 22, the Seawolves (11-10, 4-4 CAA) will be out for blood against the Hofstra Pride (11-10, 4-4 CAA) in Hempstead, N.Y. on Thursday. Opening tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. In the first matchup, Hofstra took the victory after Stony Brook coughed up the lead.

The Pride have been able to get by behind the fifth-best scoring offense in the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA), as they average 75.3 points per game. They are tough to guard, as they lead the conference with a .466 field goal percentage and are third with a .364 three-point shooting percentage.

Hofstra shooting guard Tyler Thomas has been his team’s centerpiece and is the ninth-leading scorer in the nation with 21.4 points per game. However, he has come back to Earth since the first matchup, as his shooting line has fallen from .410/.370/.863 before the Jan. 22 game to .405/.355/.845.

To help Thomas in the scoring department is power forward Darlinstone Dubar, the fifth-leading scorer in the CAA with 18.9 points per game on a .538/.406/.721 triple slash. Point guard Jaquan Carlos averages 10.9 points per game and facilitates the offense better than anyone in the conference, as he leads it with 6.2 assists per game. Carlos has been inconsistent with his shot but has made 34.5% of his 84 three-point attempts.

Other than just those three, the Pride are lethal from three-point range. Shooting guard KiJan Robinson is a three-point specialist off the bench who has shot 38.5% from beyond the arc on 52 attempts this year. Small forward German Plotnikov has been excellent at spacing the floor off the bench, boasting a .429 three-point percentage on 28 attempts.

Another Hofstra wing to look out for is small forward Bryce Washington, who is not a great jump-shooter, but he is a good cutter. Washington has shot 46.2% from the field this year and has been a regular in the team’s starting lineup.

The Seawolves have been around league average on the defensive end this season, as they rank eighth with 72.5 points per game. They will need to be disciplined guarding the perimeter if they want to keep it close, something that has been a struggle this season. Opponents are shooting 36.4% from downtown against Stony Brook — the second-worst rate in the CAA.

Small forwards Tyler Stephenson-Moore and Sabry Philip along with point guard Dean Noll will need to be aggressive on the perimeter in order to cool Hofstra floor-spacers. Noll is no longer the CAA’s leader in steals, but his 1.7 per game are still good enough for second in the CAA. Stephenson-Moore will be the likely matchup on Thomas, as he held him to just 11 points on 5-of-16 shooting in the first meeting.

The Seawolves could benefit on defense by making the Pride one dimensional and neutralizing the paint. Centers Chris Maidoh and Keenan Fitzmorris will be tasked with locking things up down low. The 7-foot Fitzmorris is the team’s best shot-blocker, averaging 1.1 per game. He has 24 blocks this season, landing him at seventh in the league.  The 6-foot-10 Maidoh has rejected 20 shots in 21 games.

That will be a tough task, as Fitzmorris and Maidoh will have to handle Hofstra centers Jacco Fritz and Silas Sunday. Both are hard to stop inside due to their height. Fritz — the starter — is 6-foot-10 and is shooting 67.1% this year, while Sunday is 7-feet tall and has made 67.9% of his shots.

Fritz, Sunday and Dubar have been anchors for the Pride’s defense, as well. The team has played well on defense, surrendering the fifth-fewest points per game (71.2) and the second-lowest field goal percentage (.419) in the CAA. Dubar leads Hofstra with 24 blocks and has swiped the same number of steals. Fritz averages 1.1 blocks per game with 21 rejections in 20 contests. Carlos leads the team with 31 steals and 1.5 per game. Thomas is averaging 1.1 steals per contest.

However, the Pride have shown susceptibility to the three-ball, as opponents are shooting 34.5% against them. They are also weak on the glass, as they grab the 11th-fewest rebounds per game (33.5) in the CAA. Dubar leads his team with 7.5 per game while Fritz averages 5.4. Thomas has been one of the best rebounding wings in the league with 5.1 rebounds per game. After that, everyone else on the roster is under four boards a night.

Stony Brook owns a big advantage on the boards, as its 36.3 rebounds per game are the fifth most in the CAA. Power forward Andre Snoddy leads the team with 6.7 rebounds per game followed by Maidoh’s 6.3. Fitzmorris is averaging 4.3 rebounds per game with most of them being on the offensive glass.

The Seawolves have been a middle-of-the-road offense all year, averaging the ninth-most points per game (71.7) in the CAA. Stephenson-Moore leads them with 14.8 points per game, good for ninth in the conference on a .434/.387/.800 shooting line. 

Behind Stephenson-Moore, point guard Aaron Clarke is averaging 12.9 points per game and has gotten hot recently. He has shot 18-for-39 (46.2%) from the field over the last three games while making seven of his 16 threes. Center Keenan Fitzmorris just broke out of a two-week slump with a pair of good games last week and is now averaging 10.4 points per game on a .523/.400/.764 triple slash.

Noll has continued to surge on offense, raising his season scoring average to 9.8 points per contest. He is shooting just 38.2% from the field and 31.6% from deep this year, but those numbers have risen significantly since his scoreless performance in the conference opener.

Maidoh and Snoddy have not seen a lot of touches on offense, but overall, they have done well with them. Maidoh owns a .540 field goal percentage, while Snoddy boasts a .622 shooting rate from the field since CAA play began.

Philip, who has the highest vertical leap on the team, has shot 9-for-14 from the field on mostly dunks during conference games.

Stony Brook will need to take advantage of Hofstra’s holes on defense, such as on the glass and the perimeter. Shooting guard Jared Frey is the team’s best three-point shooter at 40.2%, followed by Stephenson-Moore’s 38.7%. Clarke (5.9) and Noll (3.8) both average over three and a half attempts from deep per game and have found success doing so of late.

Perhaps the most important focus for the Seawolves will be closing. Squandering leads has been a theme of their season, which they did in the previous Battle of Long Island matchup, as well. This time around, if Stony Brook has a late lead, its veterans will need to deliver in the clutch to nail home the victory.

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