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Stony Brook men’s basketball overcomes turnovers to top William & Mary

Center Chris Maidoh uses a post move to score over a pair of William & Mary defenders on Saturday, Feb. 24. Maidoh scored seven points in the paint while leading the team with four blocks in the win. ANGELINA LIVIGNI/THE STATESMAN

Despite coughing the ball up a season-worst 16 times, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team was still able to complete just its second undefeated week in Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) action.

To sweep the season series, the Seawolves (16-13, 9-7 CAA) pulled out a 75-62 victory over the William & Mary Tribe (8-21, 3-13 CAA) at Island Federal Arena on Saturday. Stony Brook’s shot defense showed out, holding its opponent to a season-best 29.0% shooting from the field en route to a 75-62 victory.

The Seawolves started off on an 11-2 run courtesy of a corner three-pointer and two free throws by small forward Tyler Stephenson-Moore and a pair of finishes around the rim by center Keenan Fitzmorris. William & Mary did not have much of an answer on offense, as it hardly cut into Stony Brook’s lead before the next run put the game out of reach.

With just under six minutes remaining in the first half, Stephenson-Moore drained another three-pointer to spark a 7-0 run. Fitzmorris and point guard Aaron Clarke each followed with mid-range jump shots to give the Seawolves a 31-16 lead with four minutes left in the period.

The 15-point cushion was Stony Brook’s largest of the night. The Tribe never fully dug themselves out of the hole, as they never got within fewer than eight points of the Seawolves over the rest of the contest.

For every punch William & Mary threw in the second half, Stony Brook was equal to the task. The Tribe were missing 6-foot-10 center Charlie Williams — their tallest player — which allowed Clarke and company to repeatedly go downhill against them and score at will in the paint.

“They didn’t have too much shot blocking out there without their starting center,” Clarke said in a postgame press conference. “I just tried to get down the lane and be aggressive, I know they got bigger guards, but I just tried to put off two feet and go up strong and finish at the rim.”

The Seawolves scored 26 points in the paint in the game, 14 of which came in the second half. Though William & Mary put up a fight after halftime, Stony Brook outscored it 40-39 to secure the win, with its largest sources of scoring being the paint and the free-throw line.

The Tribe were held to just a .290/.250/.867 shooting line. Though it forced 16 turnovers and totaled 10 steals as a team on defense, William & Mary had almost nothing to show for it, as the Seawolves’ defenders held it to just 11 points off turnovers. Behind some excellent transition defense from Stephenson-Moore, small forward Sabry Philip and shooting guard Dean Noll, Stony Brook held its opponents scoreless on fast breaks.

Despite some of the best numbers of the season, head coach Geno Ford felt his defense was not as impressive as the statistics imply.

“I thought [William & Mary] missed some good looks,” Ford said. “I thought our defense was okay, I didn’t think we were great. Now, we held them to 62 points and they didn’t shoot good percentages … but they had some looks that were more decent looks that they just missed.”

While shooting the ball, there is no denying how good the Seawolves were. They finished with a .481/.417/.909 triple slash.

Clarke and Stephenson-Moore co-led the team with 18 points. Clarke shot 5-for-9 from the field and made all eight of his free throws while also dishing out seven assists. Stephenson-Moore was much less efficient, shooting 4-for-11 from the field. However, he went 3-for-5 from three-point territory and 7-for-8 from the charity stripe.

Fitzmorris ate up the Tribe’s smaller defense, as he dropped 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting. He also blocked a shot on defense. Shooting guard Jared Frey helped space the floor, scoring 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting — 2-of-4 of which was from deep.

On defense, center Chris Maidoh locked the paint down with four blocked shots. Stephenson-Moore contributed a block and a steal while Frey led the squad with two swipes. Philip also rejected one shot.

Stony Brook outrebounded William & Mary 42-34. Power forward Andre Snoddy led the Seawolves with eight rebounds, followed by Stephenson-Moore’s six. Frey and Noll each collected another five. In limited minutes, Maidoh and Philip each corralled four boards.

Only five Tribe players scored on Saturday, with none of them shooting any higher than 42.9%. Shooting guard Trey Moss led them with 16 points on 7-of-18 shooting, four assists and four steals.

To kick off its final week of the regular season, Stony Brook will venture over to Philadelphia to take on the Drexel Dragons on Thursday. Opening tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. The Dragons are 17-11 overall and 10-5 in conference play after a 69-57 loss to Hofstra on Thursday. They will take on Delaware on Monday night before their meeting with the Seawolves.

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