Last Second Hero: Dallis Joyner sends Stony Brook on to title game with tip at the buzzerMarch 9th, 2012 by Matt Whitrock
And then, in the blink of an eye, the ball rose back up and fell through the cylinder, and Albany’s season was over.
Stony Brook forward Tommy Brenton had gotten a hand to the basketball – while his tip was not enough to direct the ball in the right direction, its new trajectory brought it to the hand of another Seawolf forward, senior Dallis Joyner, who rose up among a crowd of purple and white jerseys for the tip-in as time expired, giving top-seeded Stony Brook a 57-55 victory over No. 4 Albany.
“That was a pass from me to Dallis,” Brenton deadpanned.
“Coach drew it up for Dave to get a shot up and when I tipped it I didn’t think it would count because I heard the horn go off for the shot clock. But when I went up I still saw time running off the game clock and I knew it was good,” said Joyner.
Thirty-seven seconds earlier, the Great Danes had run a picture-perfect execution of a collapsing double-screen to spring 5’8″ guard Jacob Iati for a game-tying three.
It was a fitting end to a game in which both teams demonstrated their biggest strengths. Albany, clearly over-matched down low against the Seawolves, needed to find an edge somewhere else, and despite star junior wing Logan Aronhalt’s unavailability due to a knee injury, the Danes let perimeter jumpers fly with great success. The Danes were an impressive 11-of-20 from 3-point range, with five different players hitting triples and OBW All-Conference selections Mike Black and Gerardo Suero combining to shoot 5-of-6 from deep. Suero was only 2-of-12 from inside the arc but still led all scorers with 17 points due to his success from long range and at the free throw line.
“They had a great game plan and each player stepped up big for them. Iati at the end hit the three to tie it up and Guerrier hit four 3s throughout the game so they had their game plan, stuck with it and had some success,” said Brenton.Stony Brook could not match Albany shot-for-shot, managing to convert only three of its 16 3-point attempts. The Seawolves countered by dominating the glass at both ends. Stony Brook grabbed 23-of-29 available rebounds in its own end, an 79% rate, and secured an astonishing 52% of its own misses. By game’s end, the Seawolves had 22 rebounds to the Danes’ six, and all 22 of those rebounds proved to be critical. The Seawolves won the overall rebounding battle 45 to 26.
“They’ve got men across the board up front. We thought we were going to win the game for sure, if we could just rebound. And if you look at the stat sheet, 45‐26 — advantage Stony Brook,” said Albany head coach Will Brown.
If this game sounds like it was a close one, that’s because it was. At halftime the score was an even 33-33, and neither team ever held a substantial lead. An early seven-point Seawolf lead was quickly erased. A six-point advantage was briefly acquired by Stony Brook as late as the 5:08 mark, after a Bryan Dougher layup gave the Seawolves a 53-47 advantage. The layup prompted a 30-second timeout by Albany head coach Will Brown; when play resumed, Gerardo Suero hit a 3 to cut the deficit in half, and on the next possession Blake Metcalf cut the lead to a single point.
After the game, both teams commented on the intensity of the action.“I feel for my guys because when they heard the shot clock buzzer they thought it was the game buzzer. Joyner made a nice play. I was like what happened?” said Brown. “Proud of my guys, very resilient group and this group over the last two weeks made me really proud as a head coach.”
“Albany was terrific today,” said a visibly exhausted Stony Brook head coach Steve Pikiell.
A game so closely contested, and with such high stakes, naturally has a profound effect on both sides. The Seawolves, naturally, were jubilant, as the entire bench poured onto the court instantaneously after Joyner’s tip-in dropped.
“Coach drew it up for Dave to get a shot up and when I tipped it I didn’t think it would count because I heard the horn go off for the shot clock. But when I went up I still saw time running off the game clock and I knew it was good,” said Joyner, still sporting an ear-to-ear smile long after the game’s final horn.
Albany, meanwhile, was inconsolable in the moments after the contest ended. While the window of opportunity for Albany has by no means closed – there are no seniors on the Great Dane roster – it was clear to all observers that the effect of seeing the opportunity for victory be ripped away at the absolute last moment was devastating, as Suero and forward Blake Metcalf sat motionless on the bench, with tears in their eyes, long after the final horn.“I thought the game was over. I heard the horn go off. Then Joyner made the tip and once I saw the game clock and not the shot clock I knew the game was over,” said Suero, who openly wept in the post game press conference.
Yet after struggling to keep their foot on the gas for 40 minutes all season long, the Danes can take pride in knowing that they fought valiantly against the best team in the conference and held tough for 39 minutes and 59 seconds.
In the end, that’s what last Sunday’s first semifinal came down to. Albany executed for 39 minutes and 59 seconds. Its opponent executed just one second longer – and in that one second, the story of Albany’s season came to an abrupt end.
“We didn’t lose this game today; Stony Brook won it,” said Brown with great resolve.
As for Stony Brook? There’s another chapter left to be written.
“Going back in front of our fans means a lot to us as players and as coaches and we’re real excited about it,” said Stony Brook senior Bryan Dougher of Saturday’s championship game against rival Vermont.