Stony Brook holds off Hartford, 56-52

Stony Brook's Anthony Jackson shoots the free throw Stony Brook's Anthony Jackson shoots the free throw with two seconds remaining against Hartford. (Feb. 1, 2014) Photo Credit: George A. Faella

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It finally was the three-point shot Stony Brook wanted Hartford to take. That's because it was the shot Anthony Jackson's defense forced Hartford to take.

Considering the Hawks already had made 12 of 31 three-pointers, it was only fitting that Saturday's game at Pritchard Gymnasium would be decided by the fate of another trey.

With Stony Brook ahead by three and less than 20 seconds left, Jackson smothered Hartford's Wes Cole -- who entered the game hitting 45 percent of his three-point attempts -- and forced him to pass. The ball eventually found Nate Sikma, open in the right corner. But Sikma missed with five seconds left, Jackson pulled down the rebound and Stony Brook hung on to defeat Hartford, 56-52.

There was a reason the 6-7 Sikma -- son of former NBA star Jack Sikma -- was left open: The miss left him at 7-for-38 from three-point range this season.

Cole, Hartford's first option on its last offensive play, entered the game averaging 14.9 points in conference play, but Jackson held him to four. "I just had to make him put it on the floor and make him uncomfortable and don't let him catch and shoot," he said. "I watched film prior to the game and that's what he likes to do, catch and shoot."

Jackson and Dave Coley scored 12 points each and Jameel Warney had 11 for Stony Brook, including seven in the final 4:04. Three-point plays by Warney and Coley helped the Seawolves take a 51-49 lead, and two more baskets by Warney made it 55-49 before Cole's three-pointer with 52 seconds left brought the Hawks within 55-52.

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Hartford's strategy against Stony Brook was to utilize as much time as possible during each possession before attempting a three-pointer (the Hawks were 5-for-13 from inside the arc).

"We want to play fast," said Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiel, who again was without guard Carson Puriefoy (day-to-day because of a groin issue). "They dictated the tempo. Puriefoy helps us play even faster, but we don't have him now. We still want to play fast, though."

Stony Brook (16-7, 8-1 America East) began the second half with a 7-0 run for a 32-24 lead but Hartford (10-14, 4-5) responded with five three-pointers and went ahead 41-34.

"There's going to be more games like this," Coley said. "It's the second time around the league. Teams are going to play us different and it isn't going to be easy."

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