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Stony Brook men’s basketball goes for season sweep versus Northeastern

Small forward Sabry Philip (foreground) pulls up from mid-range while head coach Geno Ford (background) looks on against the University of North Carolina Wilmington on Saturday, Jan. 27. Philip will get to play against Northeastern for the first time in his career tomorrow. MACKENZIE YADDAW/THE STATESMAN

Following a crushing loss on Thursday, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team needs a good win to pick itself up.

The Seawolves (11-11, 4-5 CAA) will return to Island Federal Arena to take on the Northeastern Huskies (8-14, 3-6 CAA) on Saturday. Opening tip-off is scheduled for 6:31 p.m. Both teams, reeling from close losses on Thursday, will be motivated to get back in the victory column. Stony Brook will have the chance to sweep the season series against Northeastern after winning the first matchup 62-53 on Jan. 4.

The Seawolves’ biggest test will be Northeastern center Chris Doherty, who is the driving force of his team’s offense. Doherty leads the Huskies with 13.6 points, 2.7 assists and 7.0 rebounds per game this season. He has been efficient this year, shooting 52.7% from the field and 75.4% from the free-throw line.

Stony Brook centers Chris Maidoh and Keenan Fitzmorris have held their own against some of the Coastal Athletic Association’s (CAA) best five men and will have to do that once again. They prevented Doherty from dominating back in January, but he still played very well, scoring 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting while hauling in 12 rebounds and dishing out three assists.

Fitzmorris and Maidoh dominate the height matchup against the 6-foot-7 Doherty. Fitzmorris stands in at 7-feet tall while Maidoh is 6-foot-10. Their height makes them effective rim protectors, as Fitzmorris’ 25 blocks rank in the CAA’s top 10 while Maidoh falls just shy of it with 20 on the season.

They are also an effective duo in other areas, such as on the glass and in the offensive paint. Maidoh averages 6.1 boards per contest while Fitzmorris pulls down another 4.3. Fitzmorris is one of the 10 best offensive rebounders in the conference, which has greatly helped the Seawolves all year long.

Fitzmorris is also his team’s third-leading scorer with 10.5 points per game on a .529 field goal percentage. Maidoh has contributed 7.7 points per game while shooting 53.2% from the field.

The Seawolves’ duo of bigs will also be needed to stop Northeastern shooting guard Harold Woods, who has been one of the best finishers at the rim in the CAA this year. Since being slotted into the starting lineup, Woods has averaged 10.2 points per game on 61.2% shooting from the field and 42.3% from three-point territory. He has helped fill the absence of starting shooting guard Luke Sakota, who is the team’s third-leading scorer with 10 points per game and has missed the last two games.

Also missing from the floor is point guard Joe Pridgen, a 6-foot-6 slasher who is the Huskies’ second-leading rebounder with 5.1 boards per game. He is shooting 43.1% from the field. He has missed the last two games and will not play in this one, either.

Other than at the center position, Northeastern is one of the tallest teams in the CAA. Woods is 6-foot-5 while point guard Rashad King and small forward Masai Troutman are both 6-foot-6. Power forwards Jared Turner and Alexander Nwagha are both 6-foot-8. Their height allows for them to be physical and get a lot of layups and second-chance points.

Nwagha has been an effective inside scorer, shooting 62.2% from the field this year. Troutman (.459) and King (.457) have both been very efficient slashers, as well.

Another player who will see minutes is power forward Bryce Johnson, who is 6-foot-6 and has started the previous seven games. He is shooting 40.9% from the field this year and averaging 2.5 points and 2.2 rebounds per game.

Despite owning the third-highest field goal percentage (.458) in the CAA, the Huskies have not generated much offensive success. It ranks third-worst in scoring offense (70.3 points per game) and second-worst in three-point percentage (.308) in the conference.

Turner is the team’s best three-point shooter, but he is in a slump from beyond the arc and has seen his percentage fall to .342 on 117 attempts. Troutman has shot 38.3% from deep on 47 attempts while Woods has made 42.3% of his 26 tries. After that, no other Northeastern shooters space the floor particularly well.

However, Stony Brook does not defend the three-point line effectively. Opponents shoot 36.3% from deep against the Seawolves, which is the second-worst rate in the conference. Overall, they are a league-average defense, ranking seventh with 71.4 points allowed per game.

The last time these two teams met, they held the Huskies to just 4-for-18 from deep. Their best perimeter defenders are point guard Dean Noll and small forwards Tyler Stephenson-Moore and Sabry Philip. Noll leads the CAA with 37 steals and 1.7 per game while Stephenson-Moore is averaging exactly one per contest. Maidoh also has active hands and averages 1.0 steals per game.

Having Philip on the floor to defend in transition is a luxury Stony Brook did not have last time around. He has played in every game since, averaging 11.1 minutes per appearance. Not having to worry about Sakota and Pridgen on potential fast breaks plus having Philip back helps change the dynamic of this game, as Northeastern’s speed makes it a mismatch in transition.

A major point of interest will be the battle of the boards. The Huskies are not a good rebounding team on the surface, as they rank 12th out of 14 teams with just 33.2 rebounds per game. However, they have outrebounded seven of their last eight opponents. Meanwhile, the Seawolves have consistently been in the CAA’s top five in rebounds per game and are currently sitting in fifth with 36.3.

Power forward Andre Snoddy leads Stony Brook with 7.0 rebounds per game, placing him in the CAA’s top 10. He has pulled in a double-digit number of rebounds in three of his last four games.

Despite their height and length, the Huskies own the fifth-worst scoring defense (73.4 points per game) in the CAA. Northeastern will have to quell the Seawolves’ offense, which is trending in the right direction, as they rank sixth in points per game since conference play began (71.4). Stephenson-Moore leads his team with 14.9 points per game — good for ninth in the CAA — on a .435/.397/.794 shooting line.

Point guard Aaron Clarke has been a catalyst for Stony Brook, averaging 12.9 points and 2.1 assists per game and has provided much-needed spurts when the offense has stalled. His efficiency has hurt him, as he is shooting just 38.6% from the field. However, he has made 33.6% of his three-pointers and 79.1% of his free throws.

Noll has also been a contributor and has long since gotten over his mid-season slump. He is the Seawolves’ fourth double-digit per game scorer with exactly 10 per game on a .382/.337/.763 triple slash. He has finally taken a more front-seat role on the playmaking front, as his assists per game rate is up to 2.0 and he has dished out 16 over the last six contests.

Shooting guard Jared Frey has been an effective three-point shooter when asked to do so, making 39.5% percent of his takes from three. He also leads the team with 2.2 assists per game.

If Stony Brook’s bigs can prevent Doherty from dominating, then it may very well be an easy victory given the Huskies’ injury and shooting woes. However, the Seawolves will still need to make shots of their own and finish down the stretch in order to nail down the win.

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