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Stony Brook squanders 16-point second-half lead, ousted from America East Tournament

Stony Brook head coach Geno Ford looks on

Stony Brook head coach Geno Ford looks on during the first half of an NCAA America East men's basketball game against the Hartford Hawks at Federal Credit Arena on Jan. 31. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

It was a tale of two halves for the Stony Brook men’s basketball team Saturday afternoon.

The first one was good. The second one? Not so much.

UMass Lowell’s Obadiah Noel hit a layup with six seconds left to give the sixth-seeded River Hawks a 64-62 victory over seventh-seeded Stony Brook in the first round of the America East Conference Tournament at Lundholm Gymnasium in Durham, New Hampshire.

Noel, who entered the game averaging 19.8 points, scored 23. The River Hawks erased a 16-point second-half deficit.

"We had nobody that could guard him," Stony Brook coach Geno Ford said. "We knew they were going to him with the last shot and tried to load up on him, but it didn’t matter."

Tykei Greene’s three-point play with 2:05 remaining gave Stony Brook a 60-58 lead, but Noel’s basket tied it with 1:49 remaining.

Juan Felix Rodriguez (22 points) scored his only two points of the second half 14 seconds later to put the Seawolves ahead by two, but the lead wouldn’t last long.

Frankie Policelli (15 points) fouled Lowell’s Allin Blunt with 54 seconds left and he hit two free throws to tie the score at 62.

Rodriguez turned the ball over with 33 seconds remaining on the ensuing possession, setting up Noel’s winning basket.

"Noel was the difference in the game. I mean, it’s one guy," Ford said. "He’s a terrific player and is the best one-on-one offensive player this league has had in the five years since I have been here. We had no answers for him."

The Seawolves’ 43 first-half points matched their best half this season, on Dec. 27 against the River Hawks. Their 19 second-half points were the fewest they scored in any half.

Stony Brook (9-14) shot 8-for-12 from three-point range in the first half and 0-for-10 in the second.

"The game was poetic. It was our season. We just could never get anything sustained offensively," Ford said.

The River Hawks (9-11) trailed 45-29 early in the second half but kept chipping away at Stony Brook’s lead. The Seawolves scored six points in the first 13 minutes of the half and were held to 19.

UMass Lowell tied the score at 49 on Noel’s three-point play with 9:35 left.

Kalil Thomas (15 points) nailed a three-pointer just over a minute later and Connor Withers hit a layup to cap a 25-4 surge, giving Lowell a 54-49 lead with 7:33 to play.

Stony Brook did not reach the 50-point mark until there was 6:39 left.

Mo Gueye had 13 rebounds and six blocks for the Seawolves.

New York Sports