The target for Stony Brook has been a top-four seed in order to be working at home when the America East Tournament tips off. The Seawolves were given a home-heavy closing schedule. The trick is trying to take advantage of it. They have been coming close, but they haven’t been able to do it in their first two tries.
Stony Brook faced second-place UMBC Wednesday night at Island Federal Credit Union Arena. After losing Saturday against Albany in a game that came down to the last minute, the Seawolves did it again. They rallied from 15 down in the first half to grab the lead in the second but ended up falling, 67-63, to extend their losing streak to four — by a combined 16 points.
“I feel like this is déjà vu, Groundhog Day all over again,” coach Jeff Boals said. “They’re a resilent bunch, but at some point, it can’t be the same things over and over, the missed free throws, the turnovers, the lack of execution.”
The Seawolves are 4-7 in games that have been decided in the last minute. So they are 8-15, and 3-6 in the conference, tied for sixth with UMass Lowell. But Boals isn’t ready to concede a top-four seed.
“There’s still time,” he said. “At some point, there won’t be.”
UMBC improved to 16-8, 7-2. UMBC coach Ryan Odom thinks Stony Brook is better than its record, saying, “I think they’re going to continue to get even better down the stretch here.”
Jaron Cornish nailed a three for the Seawolves to tie it at 60 with 1:59 to go. Then UMBC’s Jairus Lyles (24 points) drove the right side for the go-ahead basket. Akwasi Yeboah (20 points) drove into the lane and was fouled going up, but he went only 1-for-2 to cut it to 62-61. K.J. Maura responded with a layup to make it a three-point game with 53.7 on the clock.
Yeboah got inside to get it down to 64-63 at 34.4. Arkel Lamar was fouled on the Retrievers’ inbounds pass and went 1-for-2.
Stony Brook’s final play was for Yeboah, but it was defended well. Tyrell Sturdivant was forced to take a long three before the shot clock expired. The ball hit the front of the rim and went out of bounds with 2.2 seconds left. Lamar made two free throws at 1.7, and that was it.
“Execution is big late in games,” Sturdivant said. “That’s one thing we have to do better, is execute.”