You knew the road to the America East title had to get bumpy at some point for Stony Brook, and it happened Friday night in Albany, where the Great Danes overcame a 16-point first-half deficit and had the Seawolves on the ropes nearing the end of regulation. But Muhammad El-Amin came up big in the clutch, hitting a jumper with three seconds left to pull out a 68-66 Stony Brook victory.
It was the ninth straight win for the Seawolves (20-7, 12-2 America East) and kept them one game ahead of Vermont (20-8, 11-3), which visits Pritchard Gymnasium on Wednesday in the next-to-last conference game for both teams. Stony Brook can clinch the regular-season title with a win over the Catamounts, making the finale at New Hampshire meaningless.
But lowly Albany (7-22, 2-12) nearly upset the applecart. The Seawolves jumped out to a 23-7 lead midway through the first half as El-Amin had eight of his game-high 19 points in that stretch, and Bryan Dougher and Chris Martin each had five points. But that's where Stony Brook began to cool down. Dougher finished with 11 points, and Martin totaled only six for the game.
An 11-2 run by the Danes at the end of the first half narrowed the deficit to 35-29, and they finally caught the Seawolves on a three-pointer by Logan Aronhalt that tied the game at 42 with 15:30 left in the second half. From there, Albany gained the advantage led by Will Harris with 17 points, Scotty McRae with 16 points and three of the Danes' eight blocked shots and Tim Ambrose with 12 points.
A layup by Ambrose put Albany in front, 66-64, with 1:31 remaining, but Stony Brook's Dallis Joyner tied it up with a layup at 1:17. The Danes worked the clock before McRae missed a three-pointer with 40 seconds to play and Tommy Brenton rebounded for Stony Brook. At the end, the Seawolves put the ball in the hands of El-Amin, who hit eight of 20 shots, including the last one that made the difference.