NEWARK -- Stony Brook led Connecticut at halftime this season, trailed Maryland by two with 27 seconds left and had a four-point lead over Seton Hall with 6:13 left Friday night at the Prudential Center. But the Seawolves are 0-3 in those games against power conference teams after suffering a 60-59 loss to the Pirates when Anthony Jackson's buzzer-beater missed.
Close-but-no-cigar seems to be Stony Brook's fate no matter how tough it plays the big boys, and you could go all the way back to the final game last season, when the Seawolves lost an NIT first-round game to Seton Hall. "We expect to beat these teams," Seawolves coach Steve Pikiell said. "We're good."
There's no arguing that point. Stony Brook dropped to 8-4, but Seton Hall (11-2) is a solid team that had to get a shocking 20-point first-half performance from reserve Brian Oliver, who made 6 of 8 three-point attempts as the Pirates took a 38-31 halftime lead. Oliver missed the only shot he tried in the second half and didn't play much, coach Kevin Willard said, because of stomach problems.
Pikiell might argue that Oliver came down with a case of Tommy Brenton flu after he assigned the Seawolves' toughest defender to cover Oliver in the second half. Guards Dave Coley (21 points, six rebounds) and Jackson (15 points) led a Stony Brook comeback in the second half.
Coley scored 10 points in a 22-8 run that gave Stony Brook a 53-48 lead with 9:14 left. But just when it seemed SBU finally might be primed for a breakthrough, the Seawolves struggled to generate much offense the rest of the way, scoring just six more points. They shot 3-for-9, committed three turnovers and missed their only two foul shots after that point.
Freshman post man Jameel Warney, who entered the game with the fifth-best field-goal percentage in Division I, shot 2-for-10 and was limited to five points and three rebounds. The Pirates, who got 12 points and 10 rebounds from Brandon Mobley and 14 points and seven boards from Eugene Teague, put together a 9-2 surge to take a 60-57 lead on a jumper in the paint by Fuquan Edwin.
Stony Brook cut the deficit to one point on a dunk by Anthony Mayo with 1:45 left and had the ball and a chance to win with 17 seconds to go. But Warney had the ball knocked out of his hands with 3.6 seconds left and Brenton had it batted out of his hands with 1.3 left. Jackson's shot was pure desperation.
"It wasn't clean, but I felt I could get a decent shot," Jackson said.
Once again, Stony Brook failed to get the break it needed to get over the hump. "To compete is a great thing," Coley said. "We can compete with the best of them."
Beating one of the big boys, however, remains elusive.