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Men’s basketball wins first overtime game of season against Cornell University

What looked like a potentially quiet victory on Wednesday night became a last-minute race to the finish when the Stony Brook University men’s basketball team played five dynamic extra minutes in its first overtime game of the season, defeating the Cornell University Big Red 68-59.

“I thought our guys did a good job hanging tough,” said head coach Steve Pikiell after the game. “Everyone made a play.”

It would take combined effort from the team to defeat the Big Red, who had two players who started on a sweet-16 team last year. However, Pikiell would be pleased by his defense, as it would hold Cornell to what would tie for its second-lowest score of the season.

Neither team took a decisive edge in the early goings of the game. The Seawolves and Big Red matched each other point for point with the score settling down at 5-5 before Stony Brook began to open up its game.

Cornell has been trying to push Stony Brook outside the three-point arc early on in order to force difficult shots, but that strategy did not work out in its favor as the Seawolves made precisely those shots. The Big Red were also further hampered as the Seawolves clamped down defensively, forcing 10 turnovers and three offensive rebounds in the first half.

Times were not as tough for Stony Brook, which broke away on an 11 point tear to make the score 22-7. The greatest margin of the first half that the Seawolves would lead by was 18 when they had a 27-9 advantage.

Stony Brook, already known for its three-point game, lived up to its reputation in the first half. Senior Bryan Dougher, Stony Brook’s all-time leader in said category according to the Stony Brook Athletic Department, made the first of the game. He would make two more before the first half concluded. Juniors Ron Bracey and Leonard Hayes made two and one three-pointers, respectively, to give to the Seawolves six such baskets for the half. Dougher would connect on another shot from behind the arc in the second half.

However, Cornell inched back as the half concluded, a sign of things to come. The score stood at 35-20 as the teams went to their respective locker rooms.

After the break, the Big Red made an effort to get back into the game. They scored six of the first eight points, driving their deficit to 37-26. Though the Seawolves were able to keep a safe distance on the scoreboard for some time, Cornell would not let them out of its sights, reducing the lead to below 10 for the first time since Stony Brook took a 17-7 advantage in the first half.

Perhaps what kept Stony Brook afloat during this period was its ability to get second opportunities, primarily by bringing in offensive rebounds, and denying Cornell from doing the same. Another place in which the Seawolves found an opportunity to grab points was the charity stripe. The Seawolves made 19 of 28 free throws in the game, 11 more attempts than Cornell would have. Stony Brook is now 4-1 in games where it has more free throws than its opponent.

However, those efforts would not be enough to hold back the Big Red, who sent a shockwave through the packed Pritchard Gymnasium when they took a 51-49 lead with 1:18 left to play. Stony Brook managed to punch a dual ticket to overtime though as junior Ron Bracey made a crucial layup to tie the game at 51 apiece.

“We had heart,” Bracey said succintly after the game, adding that he was in the flow of things as his team’s chance at victory nearly slipt away.

Stony Brook took command of its first overtime of the season quickly. Junior Tommy Brenton scored two quick free throws, and sophomore Dave Coley added a jump shot to put Stony Brook ahead by four points. Cornell would not overcome that margin, and Brenton polished off the game with a reverberating dunk.

“I was not going to let my team lose that game,” Brenton said afterwards with a smile.

With a long victory to conlcude a two-game losing streak, Steve Pikiell now prepares for his team’s next game against Rider University at 7 p.m. on Friday and subsequently for conference play to begin.

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