Amid the confusion of bodies leaping and banging under Stony Brook’s basket after a missed shot by Albany’s Ray Sanders with four seconds left, it was difficult to tell exactly who tipped the ball out to Great Danes guard Peter Hooley in the America East championship game last March. But Seawolves center Jameel Warney has relived it again and again on social media.
“Over the months, I saw countless videos, and it’s clearly my hand,” Warney said yesterday after SBU completed preparations for its grudge match against Albany tonight at 9 at Island FCU Arena and on ESPNU. “It’s fundamentals to snag it with two hands, and it would have been a different result.
“I was tipping the ball out to whoever, just tipping it out to halfcourt. Unluckily, Hooley was there. It was right place, right time.”
Albany had been 0-for-9 from three-point range and Hooley had made only two of 12 shots, but his feet were set and the shot was pure the moment it left his hand at the top of the arc. It bottomed out with 1.6 seconds left to give the Great Danes a 51-50 win and mark the third straight year they had kept Stony Brook from earning its first NCAA Tournament bid, the last two in the title game.
The story was poignant for Hooley, who missed several weeks at midseason to spend time in Australia with his mother, Sue, before she died of cancer.
“Outside of me, it was a great story for him,” Warney said. “It was great to see him do it, but for us, it was just terrible.”
The America East race again seems destined to come down to Stony Brook (14-4, 5-0) against Albany (15-5, 4-1). This is their first meeting of the season and the Seawolves are seeking their 11th straight win, which would be a program record for their 17 seasons of Division I play.
Both teams return most of their starters from a year ago. The Great Danes emphasize their backcourt of Evan Singletary (12.8 points), Hooley (12.5) and Sanders (11.0), and freshman guard Joe Cremo is contributing 10.9 points off the bench. For Stony Brook, seniors Warney (18.4 points, 10.7 rebounds, 3.0 blocks) Carson Puriefoy III (13.6 points, 3.5 assists) and Rayshaun McGrew (10.8 points) have gotten a boost from the return of junior forward Ahmad Walker (11.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.7 assists).
The rivalry is expected to pack the house even though SBU students don’t begin the second semester until Monday, but Warney said the Seawolves are treating the Great Danes like any other opponent.
“We have this chip on our shoulder to prove that we’re for real,” Warney said. “We’re playing every game like it’s March. So just keep on plugging away and keep finding ways to win . . . We want to keep this streak alive. It’s more about us than any team that we’re playing.”
Albany women top SBU. In a battle for first place in the America East, Imani Tate’s 29 points led host Albany (15-3, 6-0) to a 73-54 win that ended a nine- game winning streak for Stony Brook (13-6, 5-1). Brittany Snow scored 16 points and Ogechi Anyagaligbo added 14 on 7-for-8 shooting for the Seawolves, who were outscored 26-12 in the second quarter. Davion Wingate had 10 points and nine assists.