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Double-OT thriller sends Stony Brook men’s basketball to CAA semifinals

Center Chris Maidoh lays one up through contact against Delaware on Saturday, March 2. Maidoh played the best game of his career in the Stony Brook men’s basketball team’s upset win over Drexel on Sunday. ANGELINA LIVIGNI/THE STATESMAN

Though it never had a lead until the second overtime period, the seventh-seeded Stony Brook men’s basketball team pulled off its biggest win in eight years to advance to the semifinals of the 2024 Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) tournament.

After taking down 10th-seeded Northeastern on Saturday, the Seawolves (19-14, 10-8 CAA) took on the second-seeded Drexel Dragons (20-12, 13-5 CAA) in the quarterfinals on Sunday at the Entertainment & Sports Arena in Washington, D.C. Career-high scoring performances from point guard Aaron Clarke and center Chris Maidoh lifted Stony Brook to a 91-88 upset victory in double overtime.

To keep their NCAA careers alive, Clarke and Maidoh delivered when it mattered most. Clarke ended with 27 points on 11-of-20 shooting and collected seven rebounds, four assists and a steal in 48 minutes of play. Despite averaging just 7.1 points per game coming in, Maidoh poured in 25 on 12-of-17 shooting along with nine rebounds, three assists, three blocks and a steal.

Head coach Geno Ford had high praise for the duo after the game. 

“Chris Maidoh had a special day for us,” Ford said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “Clarke made some enormous clutch shots. Proud of the team hanging in on a day that we were trudging uphill from start to finish.”

The Seawolves posted just a .414/.286/.500 shooting line in the first half and entered the break trailing 36-28. Coming out of halftime, small forward Tyler Stephenson-Moore energized them by knocking down a pair of free throws and two three-pointers within the first 90 seconds to get back within a possession. However, Drexel responded to Stephenson-Moore’s scoring burst by going inside and out on Stony Brook’s defense to go on a 12-2 run.

Though the run put the Seawolves in a 13-point hole, it was not all positive for the Dragons. Just three minutes into the second half, Drexel center Amari Williams — the threetime CAA Defensive Player of the Year — collided with power forward Andre Snoddy and hit the deck. Williams’ availability took a big hit after that, as he watched much of the remainder of the game from the sideline while dealing with a hamstring injury.

Williams’ absence allowed Stony Brook to slowly chip away. The Seawolves continued to fight back but could not quite get over the hump.

Then crunch time rolled around, and the tide changed.

With the game clock winding beneath a minute and a half, Stephenson-Moore got clamped up on the perimeter and Maidoh came to bail him out. With the shot clock winding down, Maidoh drove down the lane and finished through contact to make it a three-point game. After forcing a stop on defense, shooting guard Dean Noll stormed up the court and found Maidoh at the top, who slipped his way past the hobbled Williams and to the rim for a slam.

Now trailing by just a point with 31.2 seconds remaining in regulation, the Dragons inbounded the ball to small forward Mate Okros, who Stony Brook intentionally fouled. Okros missed his second free throw and Noll controlled the rebound, giving the Seawolves one last shot to at least tie it.

Clarke tried to tie the game with a turnaround fadeaway from the paint, but his shot glanced off the side of the rim. However, Maidoh hauled in the miss, circled around Williams and drove down the left lane before putting him on a poster with a slam to tie the game at 71 apiece.

Drexel took an early lead and stayed ahead for most of the first overtime period, but three buckets in the paint by Maidoh kept Stony Brook within a possession at every move. Now trailing by 80-78 with the shot clock turned off, Clarke brought the ball up the court and rolled to his right off a screen from Maidoh at the top of the key. With separation from mid-range, Clarke heroically drained his jumper to send it to another frame.

Clarke continued his heroics in the next extra period, drilling a step-back jumper with just over three and a half minutes remaining to put the Seawolves on top. Both sides hit four free throws apiece over the next minute and a half before the Dragons evened it up at 86 with a layup by shooting guard Yame Butler at the 1:30 mark.

With just over a minute left in the second overtime period, Maidoh restored Stony Brook’s lead with a second-chance post jumper after a long offensive board by Noll. Drexel power forward Lucas Monroe answered Maidoh with a second-chance layup with just 38.2 seconds left to knot it up at 88.

Ford called a timeout after Monroe’s bucket. After talking it over, Clarke decided he had seen enough of the Dragons and took matters into his own hands. Matched up with Monroe, Clarke isolated to run down the clock, got to the right shot corner, leaned in and banked his jumper in off the window through a foul. He converted the ensuing foul shot to go up by a full possession.

With a chance to tie, Drexel shooting guard Luke House got a clean look from the left corner, but he sailed his three over the rim for an airball and sealed his team’s fate. The Dragons got one more minuscule opportunity to inbound the ball with 0.7 seconds left, but Stephenson-Moore stole it to officially send his team to its first-ever CAA semifinal game.

Clarke and Maidoh combined for 17 of the Seawolves’ 20 points between the two extra frames.

The threat of having his career ended incentivized Maidoh to turn it up a notch.

“We didn’t want our season to end, we just had to keep fighting,” Maidoh said in a postgame press conference. “That’s pretty much what it was. I didn’t want my season to end.”

Clarke shares Maidoh’s sentiment, as he said this has been his most enjoyable season to date.

“It’s probably been my favorite year of college basketball,” Clarke said. “This has probably been the most fun year with coaches and teammates. Getting a win like this is everything I could’ve asked for and everything we could’ve asked for, so it was huge.”

Fitzmorris was Stony Brook’s third-leading scorer with 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting along with five rebounds and a block. Stephenson-Moore added 12 points, seven rebounds and three assists but shot only 3-for-13 from the field and 2-for-8 from deep.

As a team, the Seawolves shot 50% from the field and 37.5% from deep. On defense, Stony Brook held Drexel to just 41.3% shooting overall. It also won the rebounding battle 46-42.

Despite ugly miss towards the end, House had a stellar final collegiate game. He scored a career-high 28 points on 10-of-18 shooting, 7-of-11 of which was from deep.

The Seawolves will now get one final crack at their crosstown rivals — the third-seeded Hofstra Pride — on Monday night. Opening tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. The Pride are 20-12 this year after beating sixth-seeded Delaware 73-58 on Sunday.

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About the Contributor
Kenny Spurrell
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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