WEST HARTFORD, Conn. -- The buzzer sounded and everything stopped except for one person, Stony Brook forward Dallis Joyner. He tipped in Dave Coley's errant jumper from the top of the key in the one second that remained on the game clock after the 35-second shot clock expired.
That play set off a delayed but wild celebration by Seawolves fans and gave Stony Brook a 57-55 victory over Albany in an America East Tournament semifinal Sunday at Chase Family Arena.
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The Seawolves (22-8) will make their second straight trip to the title game, but this is the first one they will host -- at 11 a.m. Saturday at Stony Brook Arena against second-seeded Vermont, which beat sixth-seeded Hartford, 77-73, in double overtime.
Bryan Dougher led the Seawolves with 15 points, Joyner had 14 points and eight rebounds and Coley scored 12. Tommy Brenton had eight points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals despite playing only five minutes in the first half because of foul trouble.
Truth be told, Joyner thought the shot-clock buzzer signaled the end of the game, but there was just over a one-second gap between the shot clock and the game clock. "I almost held up when I heard the first buzzer," Joyner said. "Coach drew it up for Dave to get a shot up. When I tipped it, I didn't think it would count because I heard the horn go off for the shot clock. But I saw there was time on the game clock, so I knew it was good."
When Coley's jumper bounced off the rim, Albany coach Will Brown turned away, thinking the thrilling game was headed to overtime. "I didn't see the tip-in," Brown said. "I turned back around, and I see a sea of red on the floor like it was Mardi Gras.''
Brown was referring to the SBU student section behind the basket. "I'm like, 'What just happened?' One of my assistants said, 'Coach, I think they snuck it in before the buzzer.' I turned to our guys to at least pretend I thought we were going to overtime."
A replay review established that Coley got off his shot before the 35-second shot clock expired, and Joyner's tip was in the cylinder four-tenths of a second before the light around the backboard went on to end the game.
It also ended a gutty effort by Albany (19-14). The Great Danes, who got 17 points from Gerardo Suero, 14 from Jayson Guerrier and 10 from Mike Black, made up for a 45-26 rebounding deficit by hitting 11 of 20 three-point shots.
With Albany trailing 55-52 after Joyner's layup with 50 seconds to go, Brown called on Jacob Iati, who was scoreless, to take a right-wing three because everyone else would be covered. Iati buried it to tie the score with 37 seconds left.
Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell called time with 13 seconds left to set up a play. "I wanted to make sure we got the ball up in time to get a second shot," he said. "Dave is our most creative player and he wanted it in the huddle. Dallis made a great play. He's had a great senior year. It was great he was able to get that tip-in at the buzzer."