Stony Brook-Albany has become perhaps the America East’s most intense rivalry of recent memory. With some of the usual suspects absent, both literally and figuratively, from the latest installment of this clash of conference titans, it was a newcomer who carved out his name in the matchup’s history book.
With Albany star guard and leading scorer Peter Hooley on an indefinite leave of absence as he flew home to Australia to be with his mother, who is suffering from colon cancer, it was junior college transfer Evan Singletary who stepped up to lead the Great Danes to a dominant 64-47 road win over the Seawolves on Monday. The junior point guard poured in 21 points along with four assists in 39 minutes of action to hand Stony Brook its first home loss of the season.
“You’re lucky if you have one really good player at this level. If you have two you’re very fortunate, like with have Peter Hooley and Sam Rowley and they have (Carson) Puriefoy and (Jameel) Warney,” Albany coach Will Brown said. “Coming into this game, when I knew we weren’t going to have Hooley, I’m sitting there thinking, this game’s probably not gonna come down to Hooley, Rowley, Warney or Puriefoy, it’s gonna come down to supporting cast. And I’m sitting there going, my third option is pretty good in Evan Singletary, so I thought we had an advantage there.”
“Let me rephrase that because I think he’s better than a third option,” Brown continued. “The known guys in the Stony Brook-Albany rivalry: Warney, Puriefoy, Rowley, Hooley; in my opinion four of the best players in the league. So if those guys all neutralize each other and get theirs, somebody else has got to step up. I think Evan is as good as any point guard in this league. Tremendous amount of respect for Puriefoy, but I love my guy, and he’s just continuing to get better and I’m proud of him.”
A transfer from Moberly Area Community College in Missouri, Singletary did not shy away from the bright lights of Island FCU Arena. He said he was already aware of how intense this rivalry can be and he knew he would have to step up in Hooley’s absence.
“Since last game got completed, all anybody could talk about was Stony Brook. Coach and the veterans were telling me it’s gonna be a dogfight, a streetfight, based off them beating Stony Brook last year. They were gonna come out with an edge, wanting to win, so I already what kind of game this was gonna be,” he said. “Our leading scorer was gone so it wasn’t just me, everybody had to step up. With Pete out, that’s 14 or 15 points right there (missing), so I don’t think it was just me; everybody had to step up.”
Senior captain Sam Rowley dominated inside with 16 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and three blocks. Ray Sanders added 11 points and Dallas Ennema had 10 to give the Great Danes (10-7, 5-0) a balanced scoring attack.
“It makes the game a lot easier. Even with Pete here we like to balance the scoring, but with him not here Ray and Dallas stepped up big time,” Singletary said. “Ray has been playing real good in conference. Dallas—we all have faith in Dallas, we know what he can do—so him having this type of performance, we’re not surprised. And me, I just come out and play hard every day. Whoever’s out there, I just got to compete.”
Singletary also completely locked down Stony Brook’s star point guard Puriefoy, who was held to three points on one-of-nine shooting with five turnovers. On both ends of the court, in the words of the late, great Stuart Scott: Dude was straight ballin’! But like a true veteran, the Baltimore-native deflected the credit to the rest of his teammates.
“The gameplan was really to keep him in front—Coach was telling me he’s quick, fast, an all-conference guard,” Singletary said. “But it wasn’t just me, he beat me a couple times and my teammates were there to help me so it wasn’t just me stopping him.”
For Stony Brook (12-8, 3-2), Warney led with 16 points and seven rebounds. Rayshaun McGrew was the only other player in double-figures with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Rowley praised Singletary for making the transition from junior college to Division I look seamless.
“’Ev’s’ been massive for us, he’s stepped up in a lot of games playing fantastic and shooting the ball well. Especially today with Peter not here, for him to step up like that shows the caliber of player he is,” Rowley said. “People have always doubted those guards who transition from junior college in their first year. They always doubt whether they can [contribute] really quickly, but Ev. has done that and it’s just a credit to him because he runs our team.”
Singletary admitted it has been a learning experience, but is pleased with how he’s adjusted to Division I ball.
“It’s very different. I was a vocal leader last year, but here I have to take it to another level,” he said. “Making sure everybody knows where they’re at, making sure I’m leading by example, playing hard, talking and drawing fouls. Sam and Pete are the captains, but I’m the point guard so I’m basically the head coach on the court, so I have to make sure everybody’s in their position and I have to make sure I’m doing my job.”