Last year's America East title game is still being talked about: how Stony Brook had the championship title in their clutches until Albany's Peter Hooley threw up a Hail Mary 3-point shot that was heard around the world. The Great Danes' 51-50 win was a beautiful way to end their conference season.
Stepping onto the the court at Island Federal Credit Union Arena on Long Island, these two SUNY schools met once again with a lot on the line. Stony Brook was riding a 10-game win streak and 5-win conference streak. Winning this game would give them 11 in a row, a new school record. Albany only had one loss in a surprising road game against Maine.
In a sold out arena, it was going to be an intense game. There was so much hype and expectation from both teams that no one would be leaving quietly. In the end, Stony Brook mustered out a home win against their rivals from upstate, 69-63.
The Seawolves broke out a new uniform, navy with a red and white trim, for the game, which meant Albany played in their home uniform. It started out good for the Danes as Ray Sanders stole the ball from Carson Puriefoy to give them their first two points of the game. With Jameel Warney as Stony Brook's inside man, they battled back and forth, trading baskets. That is, until Warney picked up two fouls in the first half after only seven minutes of play. The Seawolves were stuck in a situation that hasn't really happened before: they were without their go-to guy.
Even though the Seawolves were a bit flustered by their lack of Warney, Albany wasn't able to take advantage of that. While the Danes aren't known as a 3-point shooting team, they have multiple players who are capable to hitting the three. They went 0-for-7 in the first half. Yeah, that hurt them a bit.
What kept them in the game was (not surprising) their free throws, their "bread and butter", as called by Rebecca Lobo who helped call the game. Albany hit 10 of their 13 free throws in the first half alone, while Stony Brook made only one out of their four. For once, it was clear the Seawolves had a weakness.
With Warney on the bench for most of the first half, someone else had to step up and take control. Puriefoy hit back to back threes to bring the Seawolves out of their 18-17 deficit into a 23-20 lead. Then about two minutes later Lucas Woodhouse and Ahmad Walker hit their own treys, setting their shooting from beyond the arc on fire. Thankfully for the Great Danes, it was near the end of the half, and that momentum didn't carry over directly into the second half.
Freshman standout, Joe Cremo tried a jumper at the half, but missed. Dallas Ennema was able to tip the ball back in with a second left to tie the game heading into the locker room.
The second half was a different story for both sides. Hooley hit the team's first three with 18:39 left in the second half, creating the momentum for the rest of the team. While not their best, they ended the game with three shots made from beyond the arc.
Stony Brook had Jameel Warney back on the court and their 3-point shooters warmed up. As proven multiple times throughout the half, Warney was able to break a double team for a layup. He was also more cautious about fouls, which he normally already is anyway. His four points from the first half turned into 17, his three rebounds turned into five and one block turned into three. Though his five rebounds were the second lowest of the season, he is now tied for the most rebounds in school history with Tommy Brenton at 1,115.
The final minute is where everything went right for Stony Brook. Rayshaun McGrew missed his two free throws. While not the best strategy, he managed to grab the offensive rebound and tip it out to Warney. Albany's Greg Stire picked up his final foul, sending Warney to the line.
Those free throws brought Stony Brook to 64-63 with 0:42 on the clock. McGrew was sent back to the line after a foul by Mike Rowley and he surprisingly made both. It was now 67-63.
Albany had possession, Hooley threw up a three and... he missed. All that was left was fouls. Rowley took the final foul of the game, Puriefoy hit both of his shots and Stony Brook finally beat Albany.