By Raimundo Ortiz
The Seawolves overcame a 14-2 deficit and a scoreless first half from point guard Bryan Dougher to knock off Gerald McLemore and the first place Maine Black Bears Saturday afternoon.
Center Dallis Joyner was saddled with foul trouble and Dougher was being hounded by an attacking Black Bears defense, so Lenny Hayes and Danny Carter shouldered the load.
“They key on Bryan on defense,” said Hayes, “ so there’s openings on pick-and-rolls. We were just making the tough shots.”
Head coach Steve Pikiell attributed the early offensive struggles to being wound too tight for the showdown with first-place Maine, which was broadcast on ESPNU.
“We were a little over-hyped early,” said Pikiell. “We were juiced up for the game and it showed in the first couple of minutes.”
Carter scored 12 points in the first half on 5-of-6 shooting and was 2-of-2 from beyond the arc. His hot shooting was helped by freshman Anthony Jackson, who came off the bench and ignited the Seawolves with his speed.
“AJ (Jackson) gave us a great lift and got us going in transition,” said Pikiell. “He did a good job sparking us and hitting threes.” Jackson was 2-of-3 in the first half from the three-point line and scored eight points.
The performances by Hayes, Carter and Jackson masked the scoreless efforts of three Seawolves starters; Dougher, Joyner, and Marcus Rouse.
Despite the slow starts, Stony Brook entered the break with a 34-33 lead.
The second half belonged to Bryan Dougher, who was 7-of-13 from the field and 4-of-7 from three-point land.
Stony Brook controlled the game for the majority of the second half until some defensive lapses allowed Maine to briefly re-take the lead.
Their charge was led by star guard Gerald McLemore, whom Steve Pikiell called one of the top-five scorers in the conference. McLemore scored 23 points (5-of-12 from the field, 10-of-10 from the free-throw line).
As the seconds ticked away in the second half, the score was knotted at 59 when Dougher attempted a deep three with McLemore’s hand squarely in his face. The ball rattled in and out, forcing overtime.
While the second half was all about Dougher, Hayes assumed ownership of the overtime period. He kicked off the scoring with a three that swished right through the hoop, barely moving the net.
“We were just running a simple offense,” said Hayes. “They doubled on Bryan so I was open.”
On the ensuing possession, Hayes knocked down a jumper from the top of the key and Stony Brook never looked back, eventually winning 71-69.
Not lost on Pikiell were some key offensive rebounds late in the game by Joyner, who struggled to put points on the board (1-of-6, four points).
“Dallis had huge rebounds,” said Pikiell. “Not a good start but he played a great second half. He’s not great from the line but hit two huge free throws. The veterans did a great job of wrapping up this game.”
Pikiell also credited the packed house for providing a good environment that helped push the players.
“All I saw today was red,” said Pikiell. “When I got here nobody wore red. Nobody came to the games.”
Smiling after the gutty win, Pikiell joked, “We’re 2-1 now on ESPN. Maybe we should sign a contract to play more.”