Just like in Times Square last night, it looked for a while during the afternoon as if Stony Brook might just drop the ball. But after recording the game's first 11 points, the Seawolves scored the final eight, pulling away from a one-point lead with 3:50 remaining for a 69-60 win over Holy Cross at Pritchard Gymnasium.
The game was the first meeting between the programs and the last game for Stony Brook (8-5) before America East Conference play begins. Now the Seawolves are poised to follow through on their New Year's resolution: keep the winning going.
"We knew they were a good team from watching film," Bryan Dougher (18 points) said of the Crusaders (2-11). "They're big, they're physical. They can score. It's just a testament to our defense how we held them to 60."
Sophomore Tommy Brenton scored a career-high 18 points, six in the last 2:55, to go with 11 rebounds. "I just had to step up, so I just tried to do everything I could," he said. "Rebounds, stealing, being in my gap on defense, just anything."
Andrew Beinert had 16 points, Andrew Keister added 13 points and 18 rebounds and R.J. Evans had 12 points for Holy Cross, which fell behind 17-5 and trailed by nine on three occasions after halftime before making a late run.
Evans hit the first of two free throws with 3:50 left to draw the Crusaders within one, but he missed the potential tying attempt. Brenton hit a layup with 2:55 left and added a fast-break dunk 40 seconds later, capitalizing on Muhammad El-Amin's steal. "Mo had a nice steal and passed up,'' he said, "so I just wanted to try to get my team a little excited."
Brenton's two free throws and Dougher's fast-break layup with 11 seconds left after another steal by El-Amin completed the 8-0 run.
El-Amin (six steals) and Dallis Joyner each added 12 points for Stony Brook, which finished with 12 steals and scored 29 of its points off 18 Holy Cross turnovers.
Stony Brook hit three three-pointers in the first 92 seconds, the first two by Dougher and the third by El-Amin. Dougher's jumper made it 11-0 just 2:25 into the game. Holy Cross never caught up - although it came close.
"When we're in our right places and we're playing with energy, we're pretty good at getting in lanes and getting in gaps," Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell said. "I liked the way we pressured the ball. We forced them to put it down and then we were where we needed to be."