Tyler Stephenson-Moore’s basket with nine seconds left lifted SBU on Thursday.

Tyler Stephenson-Moore’s basket with nine seconds left lifted SBU on Thursday. Credit: George A Faella

Against the best defensive team in the conference, Stony Brook showed its mettle Thursday night, hitting every clutch basket and adding to the narrative that the new kids in town are not to be trifled with in the CAA.

But it was the final shot that was the most clutch, and it fittingly came from the man that drove Stony Brook all night and, eventually, gave them their third conference win in four tries.

Tyler Stephenson-Moore’s teardrop with nine seconds left clanged off the front of the rim, seemingly paused in mid-air, and turned back just enough to go through the hoop and give Stony Brook a 67-66 win over Drexel at Island Federal Credit Union Arena, a game broadcast nationally on the CBS Sports Network.

“I was just trying to be aggressive,” said Stephenson-Moore, who led all scorers with 21 points. “I airballed the last two jumpers, so I (thought) ‘I’ve got to get this floater off.’ I thought it was going to come off from the left, so I was already trying to crash to see if I could tip it in from the side, but it got the friendly roll.”

Frankie Policelli, who made some big shots of his own on his way to 16 points and 14 rebounds, said he never doubted that Stephenson-Moore’s shot was going in.

“I knew it was in,” he said. “We work on that a lot. He had missed two in a row, so the third one’s got to go in.”

Stony Brook (7-10, 3-1) outscored Drexel 26-16 in the final 9:42 to erase a nine-point deficit. Policelli’s two free throws with 8:05 left cut the Drexel lead to 50-48. After Drexel (9-8, 3-2) missed three-of-four free throws, Stony Brook’s Kenan Sarvan tied the score at 51 with a three with 6:53 left. Drexel was then called for an offensive foul and Kaine Roberts’ layup gave Stony Brook a 53-51 lead. On the next possession, a jumper from Drexel’s Coletrane Washington tied the score at 53.  The lead changed eight more times until Stephenson-Moore’s final shot went down.

“The was the best we’ve played all year,” Stony Brook coach Geno Ford said. “It’s mid-January and we’re getting better. That was a great win for us.”

From the opening tip, it was clear that this would be Stephenson–Moore’s night. The Long Island Lutheran product opened the game on a tear — one that had the Island Federal crowd loud and boisterous in the opening minutes. Stephenson-Moore scored nine straight points in the opening seven minutes. His jumper with 13:48 left before halftime gave Stony Brook a 14-5 lead.

Drexel, who is one of the best defensive teams in the country statistically but doesn’t score a lot, found its way back and tied it at 26 at halftime — a harbinger of things to come.

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