They are burning a lot of barns and hanging off a lot of cliffs during this Stony Brook men's basketball season, with last night's 52-50 loss to Albany at Pritchard Gymnasium providing the latest in a string of wild and woolly endings.
Just two days after illogically rallying from a 14-point deficit in the final eight minutes to beat New Hampshire in double overtime, Stony Brook (7-10, 2-3 America East) again fought through fierce offensive headwinds to set up a chance to tie or win it in the dying seconds.
Albany (9-12, 2-4) went ahead 51-40 with 9:44 to play but managed only a single free throw the rest of the way. So with his team down 52-50 and 11.4 seconds left, Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell arranged for junior guard Bryan Dougher to set a screen that would free Preye Preboye under the basket, where Preboye would turn a lob pass from Marcus Rouse into a slam dunk.
"Pre is wide open," Pikiell later lamented. "Marcus doesn't deliver the ball to him . . . "
In the last mad scramble, the best Stony Brook could get was Dougher's running-left, off-balance, low-percentage attempt from three-point range as the buzzer sounded. It glanced off the rim. "Close, but no cigar," Pikiell said.
Dougher, the team's leading scorer but struggling in recent games, had 20 points - he shot 6-for-13 on three-pointers - and Rouse added 10. But Stony Brook shot only 1-for-7 from the free-throw line and was outrebounded 45-29.
The most significant singular presence in the game was Albany senior Tim Ambrose, a Brentwood product who starred at Our Savior New American in Centereach.
Ambrose had 15 points and 14 rebounds, but he, too, was quieted by Stony Brook's grinding defensive play. His last points came on a three-pointer for that 51-40 lead with 9:44 to go.
From there, another Stony Brook comeback ensued. Consecutive three-pointers by Dougher closed Albany's lead to 51-46 and put him over the 1,000-point mark for his career. Ambrose missed two free throws, Albany's Mike Black missed another, and Dallis Joyner's putback of Dougher's missed three closed the gap to 51-48 with 2:03 left.
Preboye created a held ball that gave Stony Brook possession at 1:37 and Dougher hit a long jump shot. 51-50, Albany.
After Albany's John Puk converted the first of two free throws for a two-point lead with 18 seconds to go, teammate Luke Devlin missed the front end of a one-and-one at 16.6 seconds. Preboye's sailing rebound positioned Stony Brook for the deciding final play.
"When you've got a chance," Pikiell said, "you've got to make that shot. Otherwise, I'm miserable and the other coach is happy."