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Stony Brook men’s basketball coasts to victory at Elon

Small forward Tyler Stephenson-Moore takes a jump shot against the University of North Carolina Wilmington on Saturday, Jan. 27. Stephenson-Moore tied a career high with 27 points in a win at Elon on Thursday. MACKENZIE YADDAW/THE STATESMAN

After playing so many games that went down to the wire, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team finally got itself an easy win to begin its road trip.

The Seawolves (13-11, 6-5 CAA) won their second in a row over the Elon Phoenix (10-14, 3-8 CAA) down in North Carolina on Thursday night. Behind a career-high 27 points from small forward Tyler Stephenson-Moore, Stony Brook defeated Elon 79-64.

Stephenson-Moore and point guard Aaron Clarke put on a show in the first half, as each scored 12 points and made a couple of plays on defense. Through the first 12 minutes of the matchup, the Seawolves held the Phoenix to just 4-for-15 from the field and 2-for-7 from three-point range while also forcing five turnovers.

On the fifth turnover, Stephenson-Moore tipped Elon power forward Deandre Smart’s lob away and picked up the steal. On the other end of the floor, power forward Andre Snoddy drove down the right baseline before kicking it back out to Stephenson-Moore at the top, whose catch-and-shoot three banked off the back of the rim and high into the air before falling through. His lucky triple gave Stony Brook a 13-point lead with 7:50 left until halftime, but it also woke the Phoenix up.

Starting with an and-one layup by Elon shooting guard T.K. Simpkins, the Seawolves surrendered a 14-3 run and watched their lead dwindle down to just two points with 2:55 left in the first half. Then Clarke took over.

Stony Brook’s seasoned vet weathered the storm, knocking down a three-pointer to halt the Phoenix’s momentum. With just over a minute remaining in the period, center Chris Maidoh found Clarke on a backdoor cut, and he bounced off two defenders before laying one in from under the basket. As the half came to a close, Clarke called for a screen from center Keenan Fitzmorris, allowing him to find his spot at the top of the key and bury a last-second shot to put the Seawolves up by eight points at the break.

Clarke and Stephenson-Moore combined to score 24 of the team’s 35 points in the first frame while shooting 45% from the field and 40% from deep. The rest of the team went just 4-for-13.

Head coach Geno Ford attributed the offensive uneasiness to their opponent’s defensive scheme.

“We haven’t seen 10 possessions of zone all year, so going against it for 40 minutes against a well-coached team was going to be a challenge,” Ford said in a postgame interview with Stony Brook Athletics.

Both sides came out hot in the second half, but Stony Brook had an answer for everything Elon threw at it. The Seawolves made their first three triples of the second frame with Clarke, Stephenson-Moore and point guard Dean Noll each knocking one down. Through the first seven minutes, the Phoenix never got within eight points of them.

A three-pointer at the 12:16 mark by Elon power forward Isaac Harrell made things interesting, but Stony Brook tightened its defense up and pitched a shutout over the next three minutes. During that time, Stephenson-Moore made a pair of free throws while Fitzmorris drained a quartet to extend their lead to 12 points.

The Phoenix snapped their scoreless stretch with a three by point guard L.A. Pratt, which sparked a 10-3 run that ended with a triple from shooting guard Zac Ervin. The hot shooting dropped the Seawolves’ cushion down to just five points with seven minutes remaining.

However, Clarke put the fire out by drilling a three to follow Ervin. With six minutes to play, Stephenson-Moore piggybacked by canning a catch-and-shoot jumper from the free-throw line off a dish from Noll to restore Stony Brook’s 10-point advantage.

The Seawolves went the next two and a half minutes without scoring, but all they surrendered were a pair of free throws to Simpkins. After Clarke broke the drought with a mid-range jumper, he and Noll alternated buckets to put themselves up by 13 with fewer than two minutes left.

The final 1:46 of the game was all garbage time, as Elon small forward Max Mackinnon hit a meaningless layup and Stephenson-Moore put on the finishing touches with four free throws.

It was Stephenson-Moore’s second career 27-point outing; the first came against Hofstra on Feb. 18, 2023. This one was much less efficient, as he shot just 8-for-20 from the field and 3-for-9 from deep. Making all eight of his free throws was crucial in helping him reach his milestone. He also pulled down six rebounds.

Clarke scored 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting and went 4-for-7 from deep. He led the team with seven assists and co-led it alongside Stephenson-Moore with two steals.

Due to Noll’s emergence after halftime, Stony Brook posted a .448/.400/1.000 shooting line in the second half. Noll finished with 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting, including 4-of-7 from deep. He also dished out a season-high six assists, making him the new team leader on the season.

On defense, the Seawolves held the Phoenix to just 4-of-15 shooting from downtown in the final 20 minutes. Overall, Stony Brook limited Elon to just a .404/.308/.588 triple slash.

The Seawolves also won the glass, outrebounding the Phoenix 41-30. Snoddy led the effort with nine rebounds, followed by Maidoh and Fitzmorris, who both had seven.

Ford believes the win stemmed from the defense rather than the shotmaking.

“[Aaron], Dean and Tyler all made timely shots for us in the second half, but the game was won because we had zero turnovers against the press and we dominated the backboards,” Ford said.

Stony Brook will remain in North Carolina and get a day to prepare for the Campbell Camels, who are 11-13 overall and 5-6 in conference play after losing 86-76 to Northeastern on Thursday. Opening tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday.

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About the Contributor
Mike Anderson, Sports Editor
Mike Anderson is the Sports Editor at The Statesman. He is a senior majoring in journalism with aspirations of becoming a sports journalist. His love of sports comes from his time spent as a baseball player. As a reporter for The Statesman, he has covered baseball, softball, football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, men's and women's lacrosse, women's volleyball and hockey. He has also interned at Axcess Sports as a high school and college baseball and softball reporter. He is a local product from Port Jefferson, N.Y. and is a diehard Mets, Jets, Nets and Islanders fan.
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