Geno Ford could not stop gushing. He would not stop gushing.
About his team. About the opponent. About what he had just witnessed.
And with reason. Though the calendar reads November, what took place inside a tiny gym on Staten Island would not be out of place in March.
“I’m going to be honest: I thought that was as good a college basketball game as I’ve been in in years,” Ford said minutes after Stony Brook’s pulsating 87-84 overtime win over Wagner on Saturday afternoon at the Spiro Sports Center.
“It doesn’t happen a lot during the season, but it’s kind of one of those games where it’s unfortunate that someone loses,” Ford said. “Usually when you lose, you kind of deserve it because you didn’t play well or the other team is just better. That was as back-and-forth of a game as I’ve been involved in in a long time.”
And it took the kind of detail play whose importance becomes paramount in postseason tournaments for Stony Brook (5-2) to win its fifth straight game.
With the Seawolves trailing 84-82, Mouhamadou Gueye was fouled while grabbing an offensive rebound. The 6-9 junior made the first free throw but missed the second — only to have the ball bounce to Elijah Olaniyi. He got it back to Gueye at the free-throw line extended, and he knocked down the go-ahead jumper with 1.1 seconds left.
That left Wagner coach Bashir Mason frustrated with his team.
“You don’t do the fundamentals, free-throw boxouts, take care of the ball in those pressure situations, the ball bounce your way, and those guys handled those situations tonight much better than us,” Mason said after the Seahawks dropped to 2-4. “And I think they deserved to win.”
After Gueye’s jumper, Wagner’s Nigel Jackson turned the ball over when his inbounds pass hit an overhead beam. Stony Brook got the ball back, and Olaniyi made two free throws to seal the win.
Makale Forman had 23 points and Olaniyi added 18 for Stony Brook. Gueye had 12 points (10 in the second half) and nine rebounds. Andrew Garcia also scored 12 points.
“I’m not going to sit here and tell you we have the best talent that I’ve ever been around — we’ve got talent, we’ve got a lot of talent — but it’s the best chemistry,” Ford said. “It’s honestly something I’ve never seen. It speaks to the whole character of the whole roster . . . I’ve just not been around a group of guys who like each other like these guys do.”
Chemistry undoubtedly is an important element for any team. So, too, is quality shooting, and the Seawolves made 50 percent of their shots from the field (31-for-62) and 54.2 percent of their three-point attempts (13-for-24).
The game was the eighth meeting between Stony Brook of the America East Conference and Wagner of the Northeast Conference. Stony Brook trails 5-3. Wagner had won the most recent matchup, 58-54, in the 2010-11 season. Stony Brook had won its previous game against the Seahawks at Spiro Sports Center, 72-48, in 2009-10.
Jackson led the Seahawks with 22 points. Tyrone Nesby IV had 19, Elijah Ford 15 and Alex Morales 14.