Stony Brook Seawolves guard Tykei Greene shoots a free throw...

Stony Brook Seawolves guard Tykei Greene shoots a free throw against the N.J.I.T Highlanders during the second half of an NCAA America East men's basketball game at Island Federal Arena on Tuesday. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The season began with aspirations of a conference championship and possibly competing in a national postseason tournament.

It ended with the acknowledgment of the emotional pain caused by an outside force.

"It kind of hurts a little bit (because) I would love to compete in that atmosphere," Omar Hawbe said following Stony Brook’s 87-68 season ending rout of NJIT at Island Federal Credit Union Arena.

With the win, Stony Brook completed its final regular season as a member of the America East with an overall record of 18-13 and 10-8 in conference.

The atmosphere Hawbe spoke about was the America East postseason tournament, which the Seawolves will not play in after the conference announced on Feb. 2 it barred Stony Brook from participating in tournaments. That decision was the response to the school’s Jan. 25 announcement it had accepted an invitation to join the Colonial Athletic Association beginning on July 1.

Almost immediately, Stony Brook responded to the conference’s statement with one of its own, in which athletic director Shawn Heilbron said the school "plans to review all options, legal and otherwise, to address this decision."

However, the potential for any recourse was stymied by the calendar.

"The reality was that a legal solution would not have resolved itself into time to address the issues around championships," Heilbron told Newsday prior to the game.

Without an opportunity to compete in meaningful games in March, hosting the Highlanders (11-17, 6-12) allowed for the opportunity to make its closing argument to the America East.

And what an argument it authored.

The Seawolves never trailed, and were led by Tykei Greene, who had 27 points and 12 rebounds in recording his ninth double-double of the season. Hawbe finished with 20.

Anthony Roberts added 17. Jaden Sayles tallied 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Stony Brook led 39-28 at halftime, and extended its advantage to as much as 25 in the second half.

"Guys had some fight to them," Sayles said. "We stuck it out."

Especially considering how the Seawolves immediately responded after learning of the ban. Stony Brook lost its first three games in the month of February, and finished the last 11 games of the season with a 5-6 mark.

"We should be competing for championships," coach Geno Ford said. "When everything is in on (playing for a championship) then you kind of get it taken away from you—right? — it was hard for guys to want to continue to play."

An America East member school since 2001-02, Stony Brook departs the conference with a record of 186-156, which includes four regular season conference championships (2009-10, 2011-12, 2012-13, and 2015-16), one post-season conference championship (2015-16), one NCAA Tournament appearance (2015-16), and eight seasons of at least 20 wins (2009-10, 2011-12, 2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15, 2015-16, 2018-19, 2019-20).

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