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Nyama’s career day saves Seawolves in thriller over Black Bears

Junior guard Roland Nyama (No. 24) passes the ball to a teammate under the basket. Nyama scored the game winning free throws against Maine. LUIS RUIZ DOMINGUEZ/THE STATESMAN
Junior guard Roland Nyama (No. 24) passes the ball to a teammate under the basket. Nyama scored the game winning free throw against Maine. LUIS RUIZ DOMINGUEZ/THE STATESMAN

The Maine men’s basketball team inbounded the ball from its own baseline in a tied game with just 1.2 seconds left in regulation. Seeing as the Black Bears needed to accurately thread a pass to the other side of the court, finding a good look at a game-winning shot was unlikely.

Overtime was inevitable. Or so it seemed.

Maine senior forward Marko Pirovic launched a “Hail Mary” style inbound pass more than the length of the court, going out of bounds and giving Stony Brook a chance to seal it.

Junior forward Roland Nyama was fouled on an attempted game-winning layup in front of the rim on Stony Brook’s final possession. With only five-tenths of a second remaining, Nyama hit the go-ahead free throw shot but purposely missed the second shot, exhibiting strategy.

The free throw sealed a 67-66 Stony Brook victory over Maine at Island Federal Credit Union Arena on Sunday. The Seawolves won their fourth game in a row and improved their America East record to 10-2.

“With just point-five seconds to go, so I was trying to miss it in order for time to run out,” Nyama said.

The final free throw brought Nyama’s point tally for the night up to 26, setting a new career high for the junior. Nyama previously scored 24 points nearly two years ago to the day against the Black Bears.

“I had an O.K. game against Albany, a better game against UMass Lowell and I just wanted to keep the momentum going,” Nyama said. “I want to be at my peak performance come playoff time.”

Nyama thrived in one-on-one situations, blowing past defenders with ease. This was effective in the first half in particular with his team down 22-14 with 9:57. Nyama went on a scoring barrage, dropping 16 points from that point to the halftime buzzer.

“He was phenomenal,” head coach Jeff Boals said after the game. “He’s just another guy that brings a lot of energy to us. One assist, two blocks and he obviously made that big free throw down the stretch. He was definitely the player of the game.”

His stellar play on Sunday could not have come at a better time. Senior guard and leading scorer Lucas Woodhouse struggled mightily. Woodhouse shot just 26 percent from the field on 15 attempts. He scored seven of his team’s first 11 points in the game, but his shots were not connecting after that.

“Yeah I was frustrated, but Roland stepped up tonight and made a lot of big plays,” Woodhouse said.

Nyama’s big first half helped turn a deficit into a six point lead at halftime. But the Black Bears stormed out of the gate to begin the second half, going on a 10-2 run that was anchored by junior guard Wes Myers, who finished with 22 points, including 14 in the second half.

Junior forward Jakub Petras played with the starters for the majority of the second half due to foul trouble and struggles of junior forward Tyrell Sturdivant. Petras played a career-high 24 minutes, putting up nine points, five rebounds and a couple of big defensive plays late in the game.

“His energy level just gives us a great presence inside,” Boals said. “I thought he made some big plays for us, his energy is infectious. I felt really comfortable with him in the game
for us.”

The Seawolves will look to extend its winning streak on Wednesday when they travel to Chase Arena and Reich Family Pavilion to take on the Hartford Hawks.  The last time the two played, Stony Brook handedly defeated Hartford 80-64, thanks in part to Woodhouse’s 19 points.

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