Stony Brook boys basketball didn't show up yesterday to be embarrassed in its Class C regional against Pine Plains.
Pine Plains is the No. 1 Class C team in the state. All of the Bombers starters are taller than 6-2 and two of them are at least 6-8.
Stony Brook, which has a much smaller roster, has never advanced beyond a regional final.
So while Stony Brook's 44-39 loss to Pine Plains was disappointing, the Bears' performance in the regional Saturday at SUNY Old Westbury was an accomplishment of sorts, senior captain Marco Masakayan said.
"Coach said people were doubting us, that we'd lose by 30," Masakayan said. "We were down by single digits going into the half, we were down by three, late . . . We showed them Stony Brook meant business. We were real."
But . . .
"I really wanted it so badly . . . We were just a couple of points short."
Stony Brook trailed 13-10 at the half. Then, led by Justin Cooper and Zach Lydon, the Bombers (20-2) outscored Stony Brook 17-7 in the third quarter and opened up a 14-point fourth-quarter lead with 5:03 to play.
The Bears drew to within seven on Tyler Abrahamsen's three from the top of the key, and Masakayan's left-wing trey with 9.1 seconds left cut the deficit to three.
Cooper, who went 8-for-11 from the line, nailed his final two foul shots to seal the victory.
"It was like this inexorable pressure -- like water building up behind a dam," Stony Brook coach Michael Hickey said of the third-quarter onslaught. "They upped the pressure, tried to speed up the game a little, and that worked in their favor."
After going down 12-3 in the first quarter, Stony Brook (16-5) slowed down the pace and pushed a scrambling Pine Plains out to the perimeter -- the Bears' aggressive defense pivotal in denying second-chance baskets. The Bombers were held to one point in the second quarter, and Abrahamsen's three drew the Bears to within two with 32 seconds left in the first half.
With the inside clogged up by Pine Plains' height advantage, Stony Brook was often forced to go outside, with mixed results. The Bears tested the shot clock and went 1-for-7 from the perimeter in the first half, but hit six threes in the second.
"Defense has been our forte and that's where we really stepped up," Abrahamsen said. "We did a fairly good job dealing with their size. We had a solid game plan coming in -- we wanted to shorten the game and take them away from the basket. We had two offensive rebounds and they only had three. That's pretty darn good."
The Bears repeatedly forced turnovers under the Pine Plains basket; Masakayan (22 points) led with six takeaways. The tide turned in the second half when three steals by Pine Plains were converted for pivotal baskets.
"I'm thrilled with the way we played," Hickey said. "Sixty percent of our kids are boarding school kids . . . With Thanksgsiving, Christmas and [February] break, my kids go away. There's a lack of continuity. We had a two-week break and that's very tough for a postseason schedule."
The result still stings, though, Abrahamsen said.
"We lost," Abrahamsen said. "Yes, we hung in there, but I'm not thinking about how we hung in there right now. I'm thinking about how we lost, and I have to sit on that for awhile."