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Men’s Basketball Break Recap

While most college students spent the past few weeks enjoying their winter recess, the Stony Brook Men’s Basketball team remained on the deserted campus. Their time was occupied by long film sessions, weight lifting, and tough practices, all in preparation for looming conference play. Over the break, the Seawolves played nine games, with only three of those taking place at Pritchard Gymnasium. They finished with a 5-4 overall record, going 2-4 in conference. After starting off with a three game winning streak, defeating St. Peters, Air Force, and defending conference champion UMBC, the Seawolves struggled in consecutive losses against the Binghamton Bearcats and Maine Black Bears. After bouncing back with a victory over Dartmouth, the Seawolves fell to the Vermont Catamounts at Pritchard gymnasium. They then traveled to Boston for a thrilling quadruple-overtime battle against the Terriers that also ended in defeat. The Seawolves then headed to Albany to break the rivaling Great Danes seven-game home winning streak. Saint Peter’s. (12/28/08) The Seawolves made the short trip to Jersey City, N.J. to face the Saint Peter’s Peacocks. Led by Muhammad El-Amin’s (Lansing, Mich.) career-high 27 points, the Seawolves cruised to a 68-52 victory.

The first twenty minutes established the tone for the rest of the game for the Seawolves. Stingy defense forced the Peacocks to shoot a mere 35 percent from the floor. However, the Seawolves scored in flurries, going on a 13-2 run towards the end of the first period and entering halftime with a 41-23 cushion.

“Our guys were really focused coming in and it showed in our performance this afternoon,” said Stony Brook Head Coach Steven Pikiell. The second half showed more of the same, with the Seawolves shooting 55 percent and stretching their lead to as many as 22. Along with El-Amin, freshmen Tommy Brenton (Columbia, Md.) and Bryan Dougher (Scotch Plains, N.J.) scored in double figures, contributing 12 and 14 points, respectively.

But the Peacocks showed some fight, repeatedly cutting into the lead and drawing as near as 12 with a little over two minutes left in the game. However, the Seawolves were too tough, making 6 of their 11 shots from downtown and forcing 20 Peacock turnovers, easily hanging on to win the game by a 16-point margin. Air Force.(12/31/08) The Seawolves then traveled to Colorado to face the United States Air Force Academy Falcons. Making clutch plays down the stretch and holding a 35-23 rebounding edge, the Seawolves stunned the Falcons and picked up a 67-64 win in front of over 3,000 shocked fans at Clune Arena. The first half was close throughout, with both teams exchanging buckets. A Bryan Dougher (Scotch Plains, N.J.) three tied the game at 15 a little past the halfway point of the opening period. Although the Seawolves shot only 33 percent from the floor, they went into the break up 26-25, with Muhammad El-Amin (Lansing, Mich.) leading all scorers with 10 points. In the second half, the Falcons went on a 9-0 run, building a 34-29 advantage with a little over 15 minutes left in the game. The Seawolves rallied to tie the score at 34 and the teams continued to trade baskets, leading to numerous lead changes. Two free-throws from Bryan Dougher (Scotch Plains, N.J.), who won America East Player of the Game Honors, gave the Seawolves an eight point lead with a little over a minute left in the game.

The Falcons used a 12-5 run to slice the Seawolves’ lead to just one with 10 seconds remaining. After being intentionally fouled, Dougher swished in two clutch free throws to give the Seawolves a three-point lead that would prove to be the final margin.

“I couldn’t be prouder of my team and the heart we showed,” said Head Coach Steven Pikiell. Prior to the defeat, the Falcons had a 75-7 record at Clune Arena, dating back to the 2003-04 season.

“This is a very difficult place to play and our kids never lost their composure,” added Coach Pikiell, “We were terrific on the defensive end all day and made the plays we needed to make down the stretch.”

The win was the Seawolves second in a row, giving them momentum heading into UMBC. UMBC. (1/03/09) The Seawolves headed into University of Maryland-Baltimore County’s RAC Arena looking to extend their short winning streak to three. In their first America East Conference game, both Muhammad El-Amin (Lansing, Mich.) and Bryan Dougher (Scotch Plains, N.J.) tallied 19 points, leading a balanced scoring attack that gave the Seawolves a quality 69-61 win over the defending conference-champions. “We were able to make tough plays down the stretch to get a win against a terrific UMBC team,” said Head Coach Steven Pikiell. The Seawolves started off the game on a 17-2 run, ignited by Tommy Brenton’s (Columbia, Md.) monstrous two-handed dunk on an El-Amin assist. After the Seawolves lead ballooned to 14, an 8-2 run by the Retrievers sliced it back to eight with a little over 7 minutes left in the first half. But back-to-back three-pointers from El-Amin and Dougher stretched the Seawolves’ lead once again. Stony Brook went into halftime up 31-20, after holding the Retrievers to just 30 percent shooting and going a stellar 4-8 from long distance. The Retrievers returned to the court with a vengeance, going on a 13-2 run to slim the Seawolves lead to just two early in the second period. However, the road team kept its composure and pushed its lead back to seven with 13:35 to go, after consecutive buckets from Chris Martin (Springfield Gardens, N.Y.) and El-Amin.

But the Retrievers would not surrender, using a another scoring flurry to tie the game at 54 with a little over 5 minutes left. El-Amin’s three-pointer with 3:40 to go gave the Seawolves a small cushion, and they went on to win by a slim 69-61 margin. The Seawolves’ shooting was stellar all game long, as they hit 57 percent of their shots, a season-high, and went 8-13 from three-point land. Binghamton. (1/05/09) The Seawolves were on the road again, this time heading to Binghamton for a date with the Bearcats to be televised on MSG. Despite a double-double from Tommy Brenton (Columbia, Md.), who scored 14 points and pulled down 11 boards, the Seawolves struggled on both ends and lost a 67-60 decision at Binghamton’s Events Center. The loss snapped the Seawolves three-game winning streak and evened their conference record at 1-1. The game started off at a slow pace, with both teams bricking shots and turning the ball over. Once things settled down, both teams started making plays and putting points on the board. An early 14-1 run gave the Bearcats a 11 point lead halfway into the opening period. The Seawolves answered with a run of their own, an 11-2 boost that cut the Bearcats’ lead to two, at 19-17. A one-handed slam by Demetrius Young (Sacramento, Calif.) made the game’s highlight reel and kept the Seawolves close, but the Bearcats were still up 34-28 at halftime. After a Young bucket early in the second half cut the Bearcats’ lead to four, the home team scored five straight to extend its lead to 46-37 with a little over 13 minutes left in the game. A 10-3 Seawolves run followed, spurred by a three-point play from Muhammad El-Amin (Lansing, Mich.) and five points from Bryan Dougher (Scotch Plains, N.J.), that cut the Bearcats’ lead to just one with nine minutes remaining.

The teams traded baskets and Stony Brook was still down just 56-55 with a little over two minutes remaining, after a layup from Dallis Joyner (Norfolk, Va.). But the Bearcats answered with a quick 8-0 run, giving them a cushion and a solid 67-60 win. The Bearcats rode a balanced scoring wave, having D.J. Rivera lead five players in double-digits with 16 points. “We just didn’t play well enough on the defensive end of the court to beat them tonight,” said Stony Brook Head Coach Steven Pikiell. Brenton’s double-double was his third of the season, but only two other Seawolves scored in double figures. Maine. (1/08/09) The Seawolves finally returned home for a matchup against the M
aine Black Bears, looking to improve their conference record to 2-1. Despite strong performances by Muhammad El-Amin, who earned America East Player of the Game honors, and Demetrius Young, who contributed 14 points and 7 rebounds, the Seawolves struggled on both ends of the court and suffered their second loss in as many games after winning three straight. “We forgot what got us to 8 wins,” said Head Coach Steve Pikiell, “And that is our defense.” The Black Bears came out firing, scoring in transition and building an early double digit lead, which swelled to as much as 18. The Seawolves shot a mere 31 percent from the field in the first half and were down by 11 at the break. The Black Bears, on the other hand, had little difficulty putting the ball in the basket, constantly scoring in the paint and shooting 64 percent from the field in the first half. The second period provided a steady diet of the same, with the Seawolves constantly misfiring and allowing the Black Bears to score easy buckets on the other end. The Seawolves cut the lead to 12 at 50-38 with 8 minutes to go, finally showing signs of life to the 900-plus fans in attendance. But the lead quickly ballooned back to 17 as the Black Bears converted on a 3-point play and fastbreak layup to put the game out of reach. The Seawolves had beaten the Black Bears the previous three times the two teams met, a streak the Black Bears convincingly ended. “Every league game is a war,” said Coach Pikiell, who also shot down any notion of underestimating the Black Bears. “We just didn’t play D and we got what we deserved,” he added.

The Seawolves were now headed to Dartmouth, looking to right their ship and regain their defensive prowess. Dartmouth.(1/13/09) Away from home again, the Seawolves used a solid second half performance to defeat the Dartmouth Big Green and get back in the win column. The Seawolves had 3 people in double-digits, led by Muhammad El-Amin’s (Lansing, Mich.) 20 points, and received a second double-double in as many games from Tommy Brenton (Columbia, Md.) to pick up a 60-52 win. “We showed great toughness tonight and our defense in the second half was superb,” said Stony Brook Head Coach Steven Pikiell. After the Seawolves were up early at 12-6, the Big Green went on an 8-0 run to grab a two point lead at 14-12 with 9:42 remaining in the opening period. The teams traded buckets as the lead changed repeatedly, until the Big Green used a 9-0 scoring flurry to take a 25-20 lead with five minutes to go in the half. As the halftime buzzer sounded, Dartmouth’s Dan Biber nailed a tough three-pointer to put his team up 32-30 at the break. El-Amin’s 12 first half points paced the Seawolves, who forced the Big Green into 11 turnovers in the first twenty minutes. The Seawolves kept up the defensive intensity, holding the Big Green scoreless for the first eight minutes of the second period. Three-pointers from Demetrius Young (Sacramento, Cali.) and El-Amin gave the Seawolves a 45-39 cushion with eight minutes remaining in the game. The Big Green would draw as close as two, but buckets from Young and El-Amin once again stretched the Seawolves’ lead. They held on to pick up another road victory, their sixth of the season. Vermont.(1/17/09) The Seawolves returned to the comforts of home to face the Vermont Catamounts and even their conference record at 2-2 in another televised game. However, a slow start dug a hole too deep for the Seawolves, handing them their third conference loss. Despite having four players score in double digits, led by Chris Martin’s (Springfield Gardens, N.Y.) 17 points, the home team could not string together enough defensive stops to pull out a victory in front of a sold-out Pritchard Gymnasium. The game took on a steady pace from the tip-off, and the Seawolves maintained a tight 11-10 lead with 11 minutes to go in the opening period. The Catamounts then went on a 10-0 run, spurred by a Marqus Blakely jumper, that gave the road team a 19-11 lead. After the Seawolves cut the lead to four with nearly five minutes remaining in the half, the Catamounts went on a 13-3 run to extend their lead to 35-21. A Martin jumper drew the Seawolves within 35-23 going into the break. The Catamounts continued the offensive attack early in the second half, stretching their cushion to 45-31 with 14:41 remaining in the game. Three consecutive baskets from Muhammad El-Amin (Lansing, Mich.) and a layup from Eddie Castellanos (Jersey City, N.J.) cut into the Catamounts’ lead. But the road team capitalized from the free-throw line and once again stretched its lead to 51-39 with just over 11 minutes to go. The Catamounts would finish the game going 35-47 from the charity stripe, compared to the Seawolves’ 20-28. The game continued in the same manner, with the Catamounts stretching their lead and the Seawolves rallying back to get close. The home team went on a 9-1 spurt that cut the Catamounts’ lead to just one with six minutes to go. But Vermont then went on a 12-2 run, ignited by a jump-shot from Blakely, that gave the visiting team a cushion and put the game away. Head Coach Steven Pikiell was mostly disappointed with his team’s defense, saying “Our effort on the defensive end needs to be better if we’re going to beat a team as good as Vermont.”

The Catamounts shot 48 percent from the floor, scoring from both inside and outside and having four players in double figures, led by Blakely’s 20 points. Boston.(1/19/09) The Seawolves headed up to the Boston Terriers’ Case gym expecting a battle with another tough conference opponent. What they got was a nail-bitting, suspenseful quadruple-overtime instant-classic that unfortunately ended in defeat for the Seawolves. Chris Martin (Springfield Gardens, N.Y.) recorded a career high 26 points, and Tommy Brenton (Columbia, Md.) added another double-double to his resume, but the Seawolves fell just short, losing 99-97. “What a tremendous basketball game,” said Stony Brook Head Coach Steven Pikiell, “It’s a shame a team had to lose tonight.” The game was close early, after the Seawolves used a 10-2 run to take a 15-12 lead with just under nine minutes left in the opening period. After the teams traded buckets, the Terriers used an 8-2 run to end the half up 28-23.

The Terriers came out scorching in the second half, extending their lead to 11 with just over 15 minutes remaining in the game. The Seawolves rallied to tie the game at 42 with 8:19 to go, after two free-throws from Dallis Joyner (Norfolk, Va.). The game would again be tied at 47, and the Seawolves maintained a one point lead with just over four minutes to go. After the Terriers went ahead 54-52, Martin knocked down one of two free-throws to get the Seawolves within one. The Terriers’ Matt Wolff calmly stroked two free-throws of his own, giving the home team a three point lead with 5.6 seconds remaining. The Seawolves got the ball into El-Amin, who nailed a three-pointer from the right wing while drapped with three defenders as the buzzer sounded, tying the game at 56 and sending it into overtime. After going scoreless in the opening period, Corey Lowe tallied 33 points, 22 of those coming in the four overtimes. In the second extra period, the Seawolves held a five point lead but surrendered it. After Brenton’s tip in with 12 seconds to go in the third overtime, the Seawolves held a 87-86 lead. But Lowe knocked down one of two free throws to extend the game.

In the last overtime, the Terriers extended their slim lead to 96-89 with a minute and a half to go. But the Seawolves showed fight and grit, closing to within one with only 11 seconds remaining. After Lowe split two free throws, the Seawolves were down two with seven seconds remaining, setting up the final play of the game. Bryan Dougher (Scotch Plains, N.J.) attempted one final shot, a runner that grazed the rim and fell off to the side. Brenton’s tip in also missed, and the Terriers escaped with an exhausting two-point win, 99-97. Albany.(1/23/09) In another televised game, the Seawolves traveled to SUNY Albany to take on the rivaling Great
Danes. Through balanced scoring, led by Muhammad El-Amin’s (Lansing, Mich.) 17 points, and stingy defense, the Seawolves pulled out their first victory at SEFCU Arena since the 2004 season, winning a 58-45 decision. “We struggled offensively in the first half,” said Stony Brook Head Coach Steven Pikiell, “But we came out and played terrific defense in the second half and that’s what won us the game.” The Seawolves did struggle to start, despite El-Amin’s two quick three-pointers that gave them a 6-0 lead. After Demetrius Young’s (Sacramento, Calif.) put-back put the Seawolves up 10-7, the Great Danes went on a 12-0 spurt to take a 19-10 lead with seven and a half minutes remaining in the opening period. After Albany went up by 11, Bryan Dougher (Scotch Plains, N.J.) rolled off six straight points and brought the score to 26-21 at halftime. The Seawolves shot an ugly 28 percent from the field in the opening period, while the Great Danes hit 41 percent of their shots. The first four minutes of the second half saw the Seawolves grab a 35-30 lead, after going on a 14-2 scoring run. The score was 38-32 on behalf of the Seawolves with just under 16 minutes to go, on a Tommy brenton (Columbia, Md.) three-pointer.

After Albany sliced the lead to one on a Will Harris trifecta, the Seawolves rolled off another run, a 9-2 flurry that gave them an eight point lead with just under nine minutes to go. Brenton sealed the deal with a tip-in and a steal, which he returned for a rim rattling throw-down. “What a terrific effort by our guys to come in here and beat a terrific Albany team,” added Coach Pikiell.

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