The Stony Brook players came out dressed in throwback home uniforms for their game against Hartford on Saturday night at Island Federal Credit Union Arena, complete with red pinstripes on their white shorts. The scoreboard even listed the Seawolves as the Patriots.
That was the nickname Stony Brook went by in 1977-78 when the program went all the way to the Final Four in Division III. Four players were back from the team that lost in the semifinals and in the third-place game. This night was in honor of the 40-year anniversary of that run.
What the 2017-18 “Patriots” really needed was a throwback game from the days of not that long ago — Jan. 18, to be exact. That was the last time they had won.
Stony Brook dropped its final four in January, all decided in the last minute. This one came down to the final 1:30 after the Seawolves made a run. But Jason Dunne scored 20 points and J.R. Lynch added 19, including five throws in the final minute, to power the Hawks to a 73-64 America East win.
So Stony Brook (8-16, 3-7) took its fifth straight defeat — by an average of five points — and its winning streak against Hartford (14-10, 7-3) ended at 11 games.
“We’re going to stay together, stay positive and keep working,” said Akwasi Yeboah (23 points). “We keep saying this, but we’re right there. We’ve just got to learn to close out games.”
Dunne hit two three-pointers to fuel an 8-0 burst that opened the Hawks’ lead to 54-40 with 9:43 left. But the Seawolves out scored the Hawks 21-11 in the next 7:58, capped by Yeboah’s three-point play, and moved within 65-61 with 1:45 left. But Hartford’s John Carroll countered with a three-point play, and Stony Brook couldn’t get closer than six after that.
“They never quit,” Hartford coach John Gallagher said. “They’ve got great fight. They’re going to be very good.”
Said Stony Brook coach Jeff Boals, “Like I told our guys afterward, individually, every guy in the room has to step up and make one or two more positive plays per game.”
Boals shook up his starting lineup, inserting three freshmen: guards Elijah Olaniyi and Jordan McKenzie and forward Anthony Ochefu.
“I loved it, honestly,” said senior guard UC Iroegbu, who had been starting. “Whatever we need to do to get a win, we’ll do it.”
After Hartford took a 12-2 lead, Iroegbu (12 points) came in and hit three of his four three-pointers. Stony Brook trailed by only 30-27 at the break but never caught up.
“It hurts,” Iroegbu said. “But that’s the thing about basketball, the beauty of it; you’ve got another game in a couple of days. So you’ve kind of just got to let that one roll off and focus on the next one.”