An old friend came calling on Stony Brook on Saturday night. As usual, the result for the Seawolves was miserable.
Longtime tormentor Albany thrust Stony Brook firmly into the second division of the America East Conference by coming back from a 12-point first-half deficit to hand the Seawolves a 57-50 loss before a sellout crowd of 4,009 at Island Federal Credit Union Arena.
The Great Danes used a 19-6 blitz after halftime to take the lead, gave it up momentarily and closed the game with an 8-0 run.
Albany has won many key games against Stony Brook — ousting the Seawolves from the conference tournament in four of the past five years (they didn’t meet when Stony Brook won the title in 2016) — and this puts SBU in an uphill climb for a decent seeding in this season’s tourney.
After losing two games by a total of five points in the previous seven days, Stony Brook (8-14, 3-5) missed on a shot to sit in a fifth-place tie with most of its remaining games at home. Instead, it is sixth in the nine-team conference. Fifth-place Albany (17-7, 5-4) swept the season series.
That’s important, but as Tyrell Sturdivant said, “We want to be prepared for March — our goal wasn’t to be first place. Whatever we are — sixth place — our goal is to win in March. So as long as we put ourselves in position to be playing better in March, we’ll be fine.”
Said coach Jeff Boals, “Right now, you’re playing for a seed and every single game matters, every single possession matters. [The Great Danes] have the tiebreaker, but we have eight left and five at home. We still have a great opportunity.”
The Seawolves executed like a second-division team after halftime. They scored 18 points, shot 27 percent, forced some three-point shots and didn’t get to the free-throw line.
Leading scorer Akwasi Yeboah (five points) played only 20 minutes because of foul trouble. He sat out the final 7:39 of the first half with two and picked up two more in the first four minutes after halftime. “He averages about eight points a game in our losses and 21 points a game in our wins,” Boals said. “He has to learn to play with foul trouble. He’s a big part of what we do and we need him out there.”
“I’m doing a bad job of changing the way I play defense,” Yeboah said. “I have to adjust.”
Stony Brook led by as much as 31-19 and was ahead 32-26 at halftime before Albany’s 19-6 run. David Nichols scored 12 points in that sequence and “holstered’’ his index fingers after a three-pointer for a tie at 36. He hit another three on the Great Danes’ next possession.
Stony Brook trailed 45-40 but rallied for a pair of one-point leads in the final five minutes, the last at 50-49 on UC Eroegbu’s layup with 3:21 left. But the next three SBU possessions produced four misses and a turnover. Sturdivant missed a potential tying three-pointer with 31 seconds left before Yeboah had to commit his final foul to stop the clock. Nichols hit two free throws to ice it with 25.5 seconds left.
Sturdivant had 12 points and Iroegbu nine for SBU. Nichols, Joe Cremo and Travis Charles scored 14 each for Albany, with all of Nichols’ points coming after halftime.