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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

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Stony Brook men’s basketball team defeats Albany Great Danes, goes to championship game

The Seawolves fans erupted, and the players rushed off the bench to surround senior Dallis Joyner. But no one was quite sure.

With 13 seconds on the clock and the score tied at 55, Stony Brook had called a time-out. Head coach Steve Pikiell drew up the play. “I just wanted to make sure we got the ball up in time to get a second shot,” he said after the game.

The ball went to Dave Coley, who dribbled around and eventually drove to a spot just inside the three-point arc and fired as the horn sounded. He missed, but the ball was tipped by Joyner into the basket. Then the second horn sounded.

Coley had taken the shot as the shot clock expired, leading many in the arena — and on the court — to believe that the game had ended with a missed shot and would go to overtime. But Joyner’s tip which, after review, was determined to have taken place with 0.4 seconds on the game clock, was good, earning the No. 1 Seawolves a 57-55 win over the No. 4 Albany Great Danes in the America East semifinals.

“When I tipped it, I didn’t think it would count,” Joyner said. “When I came down, I saw that time was still going, so I knew it was good.”

The result means that Stony Brook will host No. 2 Vermont in the America East championship game at 11 a.m. on Saturday, March 10, at Stony Brook Arena. It is the first time Stony Brook has ever hosted the conference championship.

And it was Joyner’s tip that got it there.

“Dallis has been an anchor for us from day one,” Pikiell said about Joyner, who scored 14 points and collected eight rebounds for the game. “He’s one of the best post defenders in the league. His offense has improved tremendously. He wanted to have a special senior year, and he’s had that.”

Sunday’s game sends Stony Brook (22-8) to its second championship game in as many years.

Stony Brook tried to take control early on in the game. After junior guard Gerardo Suero of Albany (19-14) hit the first basket of the game, the Seawolves proceeded to take over in the first few minutes. Following Suero’s three, Stony Brook would go on a 14-4 run in which junior Tommy Brenton and Joyner would each score four points. Ten of those Stony Brook points would also be scored underneath the basket.

For the entire game, Suero would score a game-high 17 points, bring down five rebounds and make four assists.

“It’s very hard to stop him,” Pikiell said about him.” He’s very quick. He’s a tough guy to stop.”

But the Great Danes would not let the Seawolves coast through the half. They would respond with a barrage of three-pointers, eating chunks out of Stony Brook’s lead and occasionally taking the lead themselves. Albany would hit five threes in the first 10 minutes of the half. Neither team could take a significant advantage in the score, however.

The efforts of senior guard Bryan Dougher, who scored nine points on three three-pointers in the half, helped keep Stony Brook afloat. He would finish with 15 points, leaving him just two shy of the Stony Brook Division-I program record.

While the Great Danes would make more than half of their three point shots in the first half, Stony Brook held a strong advantage in the game underneath the basket. For the first half, the Seawolves would outrebounded their opponents 21-14 with eight of those rebounds on the offensive end. Stony Brook also scored more than Albany in the paint by a margin of 18-10.

The two teams went into the break with the score tied, 33-33.

Albany came out of the gate with a spark in the second half, scoring nine points to only four from the Seawolves and forcing Stony Brook to take a time-out with 16:29 left.

“They’re as talented offensively as you can come across,” Dougher said. “We just hang our hat on defense.”

In the midst of these rough times, Dougher moved even closer to the record, making two early buckets and getting himself to within four of the mark.

Eventually Stony Brook would lift itself out of its own woes, putting together a string of points and eventually taking the lead on a pair of free throws from Brenton.

Stony Brook was unable to score, however, for the next five minutes. Albany was having the same troubles, but a layup from Suero would push the Great Danes ahead by one point, 44-43. Joyner would end the malaise with 8:41 left.

With the score tied at 47 with 7:36 remaining, the Great Danes endured a bad spell of their own while the Seawolves went on a 6-0 run, giving them a 53-47 advantage.

Albany would claw back again, though, bringing itself to within one point of Stony Brook. As the game drew close to its final minute, the Seawolves would lead the Great Danes, 53-52.

Joyner would make a crucial layup with 50 seconds remaining, putting his team up by three. The Great Danes then called their final timeout as they prepared for their last attempt to bring down the top-seeded Seawolves. Then junior guard Jacob Iati nailed a long three-pointer to tie the game.

But the game’s conclusion belonged to the Seawolves. Coley’s shot rimmed off, and many Stony Brook fans prematurely resigned themselves to a possible victory in overtime. But it was not meant to be.

Seconds later, the entire Stony Brook section realized what had happened and burst out in joy. The referees convened for a minute to determine what had happened, and their affirmation sealed the deal for the Seawolves.

Now Stony Brook will host its first America East Championship final in its history, and it will be the last chance for the seniors to clinch a spot in the NCAA tournament.

“It’s everything,” Joyner said about having the game at home. “It’s our last year. You couldn’t write it any better. Our fans deserve it.”

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