Forget Fairleigh Dickinson's deceptive losing record. The Knights arrived Wednesday night at Pritchard Gym brimming with confidence coming off two straight road wins at Rutgers and Seton Hall.
Even when they fell behind Stony Brook by 17 points early in the second half, the Knights and Sidney Sanders kept scrapping until they clawed back within three points of the Seawolves on Sanders' layup with 3:17 left to play. By then, hot-shooting Carson Puriefoy was on the bench with his fifth foul, but that's when Dave Coley took his jump shot out of the deep freeze.
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With the shot clock winding down, Coley stroked a left-wing three-pointer for a six-point lead with 2:40 left. That seemed to break the Knights' spell as Stony Brook (6-3) went on to a 77-62 victory that never will look as good on the scoresheet as it did in reality.
"We did a good job at winning time," Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell said. "We took their best shot."
The best shot from the Knights (3-7) came in the form of a 28-14 run that cut the Seawolves' lead to 62-59. Sanders had 10 of his game-high 28 points in that stretch, and he was the hurricane force driving FDU's comeback, adding eight rebounds and six assists.
"He's fast, a gritty, grimy guy," said Coley, who had to cover Sanders much of the game. "He's fearless. He's a good player. Basketball is a game of runs, and they made a huge run."
At one point after the Knights went to a full-court press, Stony Brook turned the ball over four times in five possessions. "We had the lead, and we were watching the clock tick out," Pikiell said. "We needed to attack."
Puriefoy led five Seawolves in double figures, scoring 15 points. Ahmad Walker had 14, and Coley, Anthony Jackson and Jameel Warney each had 13.
"They're a great defensive team, and they were confident coming off two big wins," Puriefoy said of FDU. "They were keying on Warney."
Things looked bleak for Stony Brook when Puriefoy fouled out with 4:34 left and the Knights closing in the Seawolves' rearview mirror. But when they had to have it, Coley delivered the killer three.
"I've got to stay ready," Coley said. "Eric [McAlister] was doubled and I was open."