Hartford entered Pritchard Gymnasium on Saturday afternoon with revenge on its mind. After suffering a 20-point loss to Stony Brook on their home floor, the Hawks looked to take advantage of a shorthanded Seawolves squad and upset the top team in the America East.
But Stony Brook proved just why it sits atop the conference with some veteran plays in the final minutes to earn a hard-fought 56-52 win and improve to 16-7 overall and 8-1 in the America East. Hartford fell to 11-14 and 4-5.
For most of the game the Seawolves, playing without their third-leading scorer and conference sixth man of the year candidate Carson Puriefoy, struggled to score on Hartford’s matchup zone. The Hawks clogged to passing lanes and did not allow Stony Brook big man Jameel Warney to get good position in the low-post.
Playing without leading-scorer Mark Nwakamma, who missed his second straight game with a knee injury, Hartford shot the lights out from three-point land in the second half. Stony Brook opened with a 7-0 run to take a 32-24 lead, but the Hawks went on a 14-0 run of its own that included four triples. A three-pointer from Taylor Dyson gave the Hawks their biggest lead at 41-34 with 10:36 remaining.
After Anthony Jackson hit a jumper to cut the lead to five, Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell did something he probably never did before. The Seawolves usually like to pound the ball inside with Warney and Eric McAlister, but Hartford’s zone did a great job denying the ball from reaching the post. So Pikiell put four guards on the floor and played a small lineup with either Warney or McAlister in the middle.
The small-ball group did a good job penetrating the zone and that led to a 9-0 run capped by a left-handed layup to give the Seawolves a 43-41 lead.
But the Hawks wouldn’t go down easily as Corban Wroe knocked down his third three-pointer of the day to give them a 49-48 lead with 3:05 left. That’s when Stony Brook started making the types of plays needed to win this slugfest of a game. (more…)