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Men’s College Basketball: Dramatic double-OT win snaps Seawolves skid

The Stony Brook University men’s basketball team slugged out a hard-earned win against the University of New Hampshire Wildcats after two halves, two overtimes and too much pressure, 64-60.

“It was a great atmosphere tonight,” said Seawolves head coach Steve Pikiell. “We won a tough basketball game. We played good defense. Today was a big step for us.”

Stony Brook is now 7-9 on the season with a 2-2 record in America East conference play. The win snapped a three-game losing streak.

However, the first half looked anything but promising. Stony Brook got only 14 points in the half with a shooting percentage hovering around 20 percent.

“You’ve got to talk to the younger guys,” said junior Dallis Joyner (Norfolk, Va.). “Some of them had this look of ‘Here we go again.’”

The worst part of the first half for Stony Brook was when sophomore Marcus Rouse (Upper Marlboro, Md.) went down after one of his teammates elbowed him in the nose. Rouse would be out for the rest of the half but would return play a crucial role at that, having the game lead in points with 13.

The outside shooting for Stony Brook was close to non-existant in the first half with the exception of one three-pointer from freshman Anthony Jackson (Colombus, Ohio). Stony Brook’s nearly catatonic offense was also hampered by four turnovers.

But then the game took a new turn roughly halfway through the second half. With a little more than 11 minutes left, the Wildcats led the Seawolves 30-16. Stony Brook’s outside shots began to drop as if there was no tomorrow.

Pikiell suggested that the outside shooting was opened up because of improved play under the basket.

“We got the ball into the post,” he said. “We got them to commit some fouls.”

Joyner said that the comeback was a team effort.

“Everybody chipped in. I just wanted to box out and make sure that we got the rebound.”

However, it looked as though that might not be enough. Stony Brook still trailed the Wildcats 39-29 with a little more than five minutes left. But that was when Stony Brook began to take advantage of the charity of the free throw line. Stony Brook was eight for 10 on free throws down the stretch.

Six of those free throws came from junior Bryan Dougher (Scotch Plains, N.J.). Dougher had no points in the first half, but had 11 in the second.

With a half-minute remaining, essentially enough time for one Stony Brook possession, Joyner approached the line for two free throws.

“I knew I had to make two to get us the win,” Joyner said. “It’s all mental, [Pikiell] said.”

Joyner hit both free throws, and Dougher immediately fouled Chandler Rhoads of New Hampsire, forcing him to go to the line. Rhoads took the most free throws of any Wildcat that day, but he missed those two during the waning seconds of the second half.

So Stony Brook was still alive with one more possessin. Dougher drove towards the basket but got tripped by one of the Wildcats, giving him a free invitation to the free throw line with 14 seconds left. With Seawolves fans in manic anticipation, Dougher sunk both free throws, and the Wildcats missed their last shot in regulation.

The fans cheered as the game went into overtime. Stony Brook had finished the half on a 15-5 run.

“We just keep plugging with our defense,” said Pikiell. “We grinded a win. That’s just the way that the year’s been.”

Stony Brook’s clutch free throw shooting translated into the first overtime. Freshman Dave Coley (Brooklyn, N.Y.) made the first points from the free throw line. It was Stony Brook’s first lead since the Seawolves lead 9-7 in the first half.

However, the Wildcats wouldn’t let the Seawolves escape easily. In fact, they took what appeared to be a crushing three-point lead when Tyrone Conley, who was New Hampshire’s leading scorer with 14 points, hit a three-pointer and Rhoads hit another free throw.

Then fate left Rouse at the free throw line with 28 seconds left with the same score. He had been fouled in the act of shooting a three-pointer, so he would get three free shots.

“We practice free throws every day,” said Rouse. “I was just thinking that it was just another day.”

Well, then that means that Rouse is good at free throws every day, for he made all three of those crucial shots, further building the euphoria in Pritchard Gymnasium. The Wildcats once again missed a couple of potential game-ending shots, Coley would make a crucial block and the game would go into another overtime.

“I wanted to at least reach our average of 60 [points],” said Pikiell. “I just didn’t know it would take us six overtimes to do it,” he added.

With the score tied at 51, Stony Brook attacked the basket and didn’t look back. They began the second overtime on a 6-1 run. It looked as though they would win the game with ease, but then the Wildcats began to creep back.

With a little less than three minutes left, Stony Brook only led 59-55. New Hampshire got closest to breaking the Seawolves’ dream game when they trailed 63-60. However, Coley made one final free throw, Stony Brook’s 19th of the game, and that would close the book on scoring. Stony Brook won, 64-60.

Stony Brook will next play at home against Albany University on Jan. 17 at 5 p.m.

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