Stony Brook used a 9-0 run in the final minutes to distance themselves from Fairleigh Dickinson, after a lead as large as 17 in the second half closed to three, and beat the Knights 77-62 at Pritchard Gymnasium Wednesday night.
“That point guard for Fairleigh Dickinson is excellent,” Stony Brook head coach Steve Pikiell said of Sidney Sanders Jr. who turned in a career-high 28 points. “We had our work cut out for us. They surround him with shooters, so it was a tough matchup, but we did a good job at win time to make our free throws, grab the big rebounds and execute plays.”
Knights senior Sanders Jr., tortured the Seawolves defense all night, his drive and made layup off the window cut the Seawolves lead to 62-59 with 3:17 remaining. However, Dave Coley received a pass from a double-teamed Eric McAlister and drained a three-pointer from the left wing on the next possession to put the Seawolves up six.
“I just think I have to stay ready,” Coley said of the crucial possession with 2:40 remaining. “You never know when the moment was going to come, Eric was double-teamed, the clock was running down and he knew I was open. He passed it and I just stepped up and made the shot.”
Stony Brook would hold onto that lead and win by 15 by making 21 of 26 free throws in the second half. Part of that advantage was a season-low 13 fouls for the Seawolves. Sophomore Carson Puriefoy led the Seawolves with 15 points off the bench, but he fouled out with 4:35 remaining after an offensive foul at the top of the key.
“I wasn’t happy about [fouling out], but they were calling touch fouls all night,” Puriefoy said. “That’s the new rule, we have to adjust as a team. We had a season low in fouls we had 13, I had five of them.”
Four other Seawolves, Coley, Ahmad Walker, Anthony Jackson and Jameel Warney reached double figure points. McAlister corralled a career-high 9 rebounds for Stony Brook who out rebounded Fairleigh Dickinson 38-26 including 15 offensive rebounds.
Puriefoy drained a three pointer at the top of the key with 4.3 seconds left in the first half to carry the Seawolves into halftime with a 13-point lead. He scored 12 of his team-high 15 points in the first half.
The Knights would come back strong in the second half to cut into the lead by forcing the Seawolves to turn the ball over eight times in the second half.
“I didn’t like we had a lead and we were playing to watch the clock tick out,” Pikiell said. “We need to attack and be aggressive. I thought once we got that back, we were fine and it happens sometimes when you have big leads like that. We called a timeout and made our adjustments, we began to attack again.”
Scooter Gillette posted up Warney and his hook shot sank in with a foul. The graduate transfer’s shot cut the Seawolves lead to 54-48. Freshman Matt MacDonald cut the lead to four with a three-pointer from the left corner to make it a 57-53 game with 5:58 left. MacDonald was the only other Knights scorer in double-digits with 11 points.
Ryan Restivo covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and America East conference for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.