It didn't matter that Stony Brook was playing in sparkling new IFCU Arena in front of a home crowd of 3,434 Monday night. It didn't matter that Albany was without leading scorer Peter Hooley, who was on leave visiting his cancer-stricken mother in Australia.
The rematch of last season's America East championship game produced the same winner, and if anything, the Great Danes' 64-47 victory was far more decisive than their nine-point win in the title game last March in neighboring Pritchard Gym.
Without Hooley, who hit the game-clinching three-pointer nine months ago, four of Albany's starters played at least 35 minutes. Forward Sam Rowley had a tremendous all-around game with 16 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and three blocks, and point guard Evan Singletary got to the rim when he wanted to score a game-high 21 points and add four assists. Ray Sanders had 11 points, Dallas Ennema added 10, and the Danes (10-7, 5-0 America East) out-rebounded Stony Brook (12-8, 3-2), by two and made 19 of 23 foul shots.
Jameel Warney (16 points, 7 rebounds, 5 blocks) and Rayshaun McGrew (12-10) were solid in the frontcourt for the Seawolves. But starting guards Carson Puriefoy III, Bryan Sekunda and Roland Nyama had a combined 3-for-26 shooting night, and SBU was 4 of 22 from three-point range against Albany's 2-3 zone.
"We didn't come to play hard," Warney said. "Albany deserved to win this game. There was times we wanted to play and times we didn't look like we wanted to play at all, and it showed . . . Singletary and Rowley controlled the game and had a big effect."
Just when it seemed Puriefoy had shaken a four-game slump with strong games in wins over UMBC and at Maine, the point guard regressed against Albany. He had three points, shooting 1-for-9, zero assists and five turnovers, and it had a profound effect on the Seawolves.
"When one man is down, everybody else has to step up and try to finish what he's not doing right now," McGrew said of Puriefoy. "He's in a small slump. He'll get out of it. The whole team has to do more, not just Tre."
Drawing inspiration from Hooley's absence, Albany used a 12-0 run to jump out to an 18-5 lead. But Stony Brook's Warney scored eight straight points at the start of an 11-0 Seawolves run that cut the deficit to 18-16. That would be as close as Stony Brook got.
Albany put together a 14-4 second-half run for a 45-31 lead with 12:40 left. The Seawolves made one final surge to cut the deficit to 53-47 on a three-pointer by Sekunda with 2:46 to play, but Albany scored the last 11 points of the game at the foul line.
Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell has the league's youngest team but expects it to improve. "We've won seven of the last eight," Pikiell said. "We have five freshmen who play a major part in what we do. So, we're having a learning process, but we're pretty good. Albany got the best of us today, but we look forward to going to Albany and playing better."