One of my favorite type of game is that between two undefeated teams. There's no clear top team or underdog. It's a free for all, usually with luck in favor of whoever has home court advantage. Stony Brook versus Vermont is nothing short of an intense battle of the fittest.
I've been told that Pritchard Gymnasium is quite possibly the hardest gym to grab a road win in the America East Conference. I've heard the stories of the intensity from the fans that can squash any opposing team's hopes of walking away the victor. It's one of the smaller gyms I've been to. I was even run over by an out of bounds Dave Coley in the second half.
They had sold out by game day and were turning people away at the door who hadn't bought tickets prior to the game. When Vermont took the floor for shoot around before the game, the entire Stony Brook crowd erupted into a loud and nerve wracking "boo!"
Stony Brook started the game off hot with Jameel Warney hitting the first jumper of the game. They managed to penetrate Vermont's defense for a 44 to 28 lead by the half. Despite Vermont being a tough defensive team, Stony Brook managed most of their points inside the paint.
"This is the best defensive team in the league... I was most surprised we were able to score 44 points in the first half." said Stony Brook head coach Steve Pikiell
Vermont on the other hand, had trouble finding their way in the paint and resorted to taking more perimeter shots, but hitting only 8 of their 22 attempts. Kurt Steidl stepped it up for the Catamounts in the second half when they needed it. He hit four of six from beyond the arch, the most important being when he brought the game to 62-65 with three minutes left. Most of the Catamount points came from the bench.
"I thought we did a great job on their starters. Carissimo is an excellent guard, but what happens is you take away one thing and you see how much depth they have."
Vermont managed to claw their way back from a 17 point deficit to make it a three point game with two minutes remaining. Their run lasted most of the second half, but in the last few minutes of the game, neither team had shots fall.
Ethan O`Day took the three point shot that would have tied the game and sent it into overtime with one second remaining. As soon as it hit the rim the entire gym erupted in excitement. The Seawolves would continue their conference season undefeated.
Stony Brook doesn't have much time to revel in their win. They have only 24 hours to prepare for a home game against Maine on Sunday.
"You gotta keep grinding. Games are hard to win, home or away, when you play good teams. We've been in this position before. I like the fact that when we needed stops we got 'em. That's a good sign for us."