Sunday, February 26, 2012

Stony Brook Men's hoops beats Maine to win regular season championship

The Seawolves finish the regular season a program-record 14-2 in America East and will be No. 1 seed in next week's tournament.

Final Stats
Pikiell on Sirius XM Sports
Vote Dougher or Brenton for Fans' Choice Player of the Year
2012 America East Championship Tournament Central | Bracket (PDF)
Greg Logan Newsday article
Steve Pikiell thanks his seniors - Newsday.com Hoops Scoops
Stony Brook, N.Y. - For the second time in three years, the Stony Brook men's basketball team grinded out the 16-game America East regular season schedule and came out on top of the other eight teams. The Seawolves defeated Maine, 55-48, to clinch the America East regular season title with a 14-2 record. The Seawolves will be the No. 1 seed in next week's America East Championship.

The win is Stony Brook's 11th win in its last 12 games and 17th victory in its last 19 games. The 14-2 America East record is a program best, topping the 2009-10 regular season champion team's 13-3 mark, and SBU's 20-8 overall record is the second time the team has won 20 regular season games in its Div. I history. Stony Brook was in first place every day of the regular season, making it the league's first wire-to-wire champion since 2006-07 (Vermont).

Stony Brook also won its 14th consecutive home game and finished the regular season undefeated at Pritchard Gymnasium. The Seawolves are one of 13 teams in NCAA Div. I to be undefeated at home this season.

"I want to thank the fans, the band, the staff, and everyone involved for their support of our team this season," head coach Steve Pikiell said. "To win 20 games in the regular season and win 14 games in a tough league is an accomplishment. I'm proud of my team, and we'll enjoy this today and then start preparing for the conference tournament on Monday."

Senior Dallis Joyner (Norfolk, Va.) scored a game-high 12 points to lead the Seawolves and earn America East Player of the Game honors. SBU shot only 37 percent from the game, but won thanks to outstanding defense that limited the Black Bears to 32 percent shooting and just 19 percent from three-point range. The Seawolves, who are sixth in the nation in rebounding margin, outrebounded Maine 40-34 and turned 12 offensive rebounds into 14 second chance points.

Maine was led by Alasdair Fraser who had 12 points and 10 rebounds to earn America East Player of the Game honors.

The Seawolves got into a groove in the early going of the game as senior Bryan Dougher (Scotch Plains, N.J.) scored eight points in the first 4:21. His three-pointer at 15:39 gave SBU an early 15-4 advantage.

Stony Brook stretched that lead to as much as 15 points after junior Tommy Brenton (Columbia, Md.) ripped a rebound away from a Maine player and hit a put-back layup off a missed three-pointer to give the Seawolves at 26-11 lead with 8:42 left in the first half.

The Black Bears hung around and got back into the game on the strength of six Fraser points near the end of the half. His layup underneath the basket off a pass from Justin Edwards made it 30-24 going into halftime.

Maine then opened the second half on an 11-5 run and got within one point after Gerald McLemore made three free throws after drawing a foul on a three-point shot. The SBU lead was at 36-35 and then 38-37 with 12:40 to go.

Maine had two chances to take its first lead of the game, but the team missed three-point attempts on back-to-back possessions. Stony Brook got its lead back up to seven points, 46-39, after a great sequence by Joyner. He had a put-back layup to make it a five-point game and then grabbed a big defensive rebound in traffic and drew a loose-ball foul, sending him to the free throw line where he made both shots.

Joyner then had another huge play with a spin-move past Fraser in the post and an up-and-under layup to make it 51-45 with 3:43 to go.

Maine got within three on a Kilian Cato three-pointer at 1:05, but the Seawolves made enough free throws to ice the game.

Prior to the game, the Seawolves honored their four seniors, Dougher, Joyner, Danny Carter and Al Rapier.

Stony Brook will now enter the America East Championship as the No. 1 seed, three wins away from a conference title and NCAA Tournament bid. The quest for the title begins Saturday, March 3 against either No. 8 UMBC or No. 9 Binghamton in the tournament quarterfinals in West Hartford, Conn., at 12 p.m. For tickets, visit AmericaEast.com.