If I told you that Stony Brook was down by two with under four minutes to play, and they didn't choke, would you believe me?
No, you're not dreaming. Stony Brook won it 80-74.
The crowd flooded the Federal Credit Union Arena when the buzzer hit zero and their beloved Seawolves were finally going to the big dance. After three years of making it to the tournament title game and losing in the last minutes, it's nothing less than a sweet victory for Head Coach Steve Pikiell and his team.
The Vermont Catamounts came ever so close to upsetting the Seawolves, but after being plagued with foul trouble and injuries, it was Stony Brook who was able to seal the deal with a six point win,
What's a Stony Brook game without Jameel Warney? In this case, they would have been without 43 points. Warney pulled in over half of the Seawolves' points, tying the championship game record for most points and giving himself a new career high. He made 18 of his 22 shots making good on his marching orders from Pikiell.
"I was being aggressive from the start." said Warney about his performance. "Before the game coach said I have to get 20 shots up..."
Stop me if this sounds familiar to you: Jameel Warney and Carson Puriefoy combined to make up 66 of the 80 points. Just like last year's title game, these two have proven themselves to be a powerhouse together. Having a good post guy and a good outside shooter, Stony Brook is going to give whoever they're matched up against in the NCAA tournament one hell of a time.
Those two didn't have all of the fun, though. Rayshaun McGrew pulled in the first points for the Seawolves for both the first and second half. Lucas Woodhouse and Ahmad Walker brought in big assists, mainly to Warney, with eight and four respectively. Though it doesn't show on the stat sheet, Stony Brook caused many of Vermont's possessions to go far into the shot clock, causing at least one shot clock violation in the first half. They also caused Vermont to have 17 turnovers which lead to 19 Stony Brook points.
So how does a team that's done this for the past three years with less than desirable outcomes go into their fourth title game with the odds stacked against them?
"We had to treat it like another game, but it was a big game of our career. [We had to] just come out, be aggressive, do what we always do," said Warney. "We just knew to stay together. It's a group of tough guys that have to really beat us."
Pikiell was more than happy to win the game, but let it be known that winning a bid to the NCAA tournament is hard work.
"It's been an unbelievable journey. It's so hard to win...It's tough. People think it's easy to win games," he said. "The other team's very good. Vermont are very good. I was reading their media guide and the best player since I've been here in the conference is Marqus Blakely. Played for the San Antonio Spurs, how good he was, and went to one NCAA tournament."
Their hard work has finally paid off and they await Selection Sunday for their seeding and opponent. Hartford head coach John Gallagher said in their last meeting that if Stony Brook were to win the title, they would be a Sweet 16 team.
Here's to wishful thinking.