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#5 Seawolves knock off #4 Great Danes, advance to America East semifinals

Senior Chris Martin played like his career was on the line, scoring 18, grabbing 6 boards and recording 5 assists. (Photo: John Tocabens)

Revenge is sweet.

After losing to Albany twice during the regular season, the Seawolves played their best game at the right time and defeated the Great Danes 67-61 in the quarterfinals of the America East Tournament, thus ending their season.

Senior Chris Martin (Springfield Gardens, N.Y.) scored 16 of his team-high 18 points in the second half to go along with six rebounds and five assists. He missed both regular season games due to injury.

“I knew it would be a tough game,” head coach Steve Pikiell said. “I like the effort, everybody chipped in. We’re lucky; we advanced to play another 40 minutes tomorrow.”

Bryan Dougher (Scotch Plains, N.J.) came out on-fire to start the game, scoring 12 points in the first four minutes on 4-for-4 shooting from three-point land. But Albany would lockdown on defense and hold him scoreless for the rest of the game.

Stony Brook took an 18-13 lead with just over 12 minutes to go in the first half, but Albany battled back and went on a 14-2 run capped by a put-back layup from Tim Ambrose. But the Seawolves would not back down as Eric McAlister (Hightstown, N.J.) drilled a 3-pointer with a hand in his face to give the Seawolves a 30-29 lead. The game would go into halftime tied at 34.

Martin came out aggressive after the break, driving hard to the basket and drawing fouls. After he hit three free throws, he was able to find Leonard Hayes (Voorhees, N.J.) for a three-pointer to give Stony Brook a 40-36 lead.

“I told myself I wasn’t going home,” Martin said. “I knew I would have to come out and play in the second half and that’s what I did.

The Great Danes would come within one after a free throw from Mike Black, but Martin would hit a floater with the shot-clock winding down to push the lead to 45-42. Martin would account for the next six points, finding Dallis Joyner (Norfolk, Va.) for a dunk on back-to-back possessions and then taking the ball coast-to-coast for a layup to give the Seawolves a 51-46 lead and force Albany to call a timeout.

The game got close as Albany started pressing on defense and forced back-to-back turnovers on Stony Brook. Ambrose was able to find Logan Aronhalt for a layup to bring them within two at 56-54. But Martin would answer with a layup of his own, which was answered with a layup from Ambrose, which was then answered by a three-point play from Martin to give Stony Brook a 61-56 lead with two and a half minutes to go.

The referees starting calling the game tight as Albany battled back with free throws on three straight possessions to dwindle the lead down to 63-61. With 23 seconds left, Martin drove in for a layup and was blocked, but Joyner grabbed a huge offensive rebound and dished it to Hayes who was immediately fouled. The Seawolves would make their free throws on their way to victory.

Martin hit eight of his nine free throws and shot 80 percent from the field in the second half. He missed 13 games this season after suffering a knee injury. Now that he is recovered, his importance to the team is clear.

“I know he’s a little disappointed about how the year went with the injury,” Dougher said. “But I can’t say enough about the way he played today. He brings a different element to our team that we’ve been missing all year.”

Martin, who is the team’s only senior, played with intensity and aggressiveness as his career was on the line

“I didn’t play a lot of games this year and I knew this could be my last game,” he said. “But I told myself and my teammates that wasn’t happening.”

Hayes scored eight of his 11 points after halftime. Joyner added nine points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Stony Brook shot 48 percent from the field and hit 10 three-pointers for the seventh time in 11 games, and that is proving to be their formula for success as all of those games resulted in wins.

Albany was led by Ambrose, who scored 24 points in the final game of his career. Aronhalt scored 13 points before fouling out. The Great Danes were held to 30 percent from beyond the arc on 6-of 20 shooting.

The Seawolves will face Vermont tomorrow in the semifinals game. They lost both games to the Catamounts in the regular season, but Pikiell said that doesn’t mean anything for the conference tournament.

“It’s time to win now,” Pikiell said. “We’ll play hard tomorrow, you’ll see.”

Tipoff is set for 5:04 p.m.

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