With the top two teams in the America East doing battle, it should come as no surprise that this one came down to the final possessions.
What may have been a surprise, however, is Stony Brook relinquishing a 17 point lead with 16 minutes remaining, and nearly giving the game away at the end with missed free throws. Vermont had three three-point opportunities in the final 16 seconds, but none would fall; the final effort by Ethan O’Day clanked off the rim.
Stony Brook head coach Steve Pikiell will be happy with this win, but probably not satisfied. He will have left the floor tonight breathing a sigh of relief, not pounding his chest. When he watches the game tape from the second half, he will find the staunch defense that Stony Brook threw at Vermont in the first half suddenly evaporated.
All that said, he just beat Vermont — the only other undefeated team in the league. As such, is there such thing as an ugly or bad win?
The Catamounts trailed 50-33 when the under 16 media timeout hit, but went on a quick 13-0 run over roughly a five minute stretch to close the gap. Ethan O’Day caught fire, scoring on four consecutive possessions to bring the deficit within single-digits.
Give the Seawolves credit, however; they didn’t flinch. A Jameel Warney layup and consecutive three-pointers by Anthony Jackson pushed the lead up to nine. While Vermont would continue to make runs, they never got over the hump and took the lead — Stony Brook never folded.
Pikiell and Vermont head coach John Becker wouldn’t tell you this, but their teams are — far and away — the two best teams in the league. Albany and Hartford are both solid and will challenge, but are a notch below.
These two America East juggernauts won’t meet again until late February in Burlington. The Seawolves held serve at home, but heading north is never easy, where they haven’t come away with a win since the 2009-10 season.