Last year, Boston University ended Stony Brook's cinderella run through the conference tournament with a two-point win. Three of this year's seniors who started in that game also started on Sunday against Maine with the Seawolves vying for the America East regular season title and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.
And it was the senior leadership that carried Stony Brook to a 55-48 victory over Maine, giving the Seawolves momentum entering the conference tournament.
Senior Dallis Joyner led Stony Brook scorers with 12 points and 6 rebounds as the four seniors combined for 33 points against Maine. Senior Bryan Dougher had 9 point and 5 rebounds, senior Al Rapier added 7 points and 4 rebounds, and senior Danny Carter had 5 points and 4 rebounds in the win for Stony Brook (20-8, 14-2 America East).
"These seniors won us the game today," head coach Steve Pikiell said. "They did a great job and they've done a great job their whole career."
But it wasn't just the seniors' offense that led to the win – the team's defense perhaps played the bigger role. Carter rebounded to prevent a second-chance Maine basket after the Black Bears missed a three-pointer in the final seconds of the game, then made two key freethrows to help preserve the Stony Brook lead. The Seawolves held Maine (12-16, 6-10 America East) – a team that averages more than 70 points per game – to under 50 points.
"We grind it out and that's what we pride ourselves on doing," Dougher said. "We came up with the big stops when we needed it."
Carter called his team "a blue collar team [that's] going to win games on our defense."
Even though Maine fought back from a 15-point first-half deficit with a 13-4 run to end the first half, then twice got within one point of Stony Brook midway through the second, Pikiell had confidence the Seawolves would stay composed.
"I knew we'd be fine," he said. "Our defense wins us games."
The win preserved Stony Brook's home winning streak, which now stands at 14 straight home wins. It solidified the regular season championship for the Seawolves, who were on track to share the regular season title but benefited from Binghamton's surprise win over Vermont on Feb. 21. On Saturday, the Seawolves will face the winner of the play-in game between Binghamton and UMBC at Hartford.
Box Score1 2 Final Maine 24 24 48 Stony Brook 30 25 55