By Alex Mitchell -- STAFF WRITER Like last year, it all came down to the last shot. Down by three with just seconds remaining, and Juan’ya Green had an opportunity to push the game into overtime. His last chance shot was no good. Stony Brook took this year’s Battle for Long Island, 71-68. It was the Seawolves’ first win over Hofstra since 2007.
Hofstra and Stony Brook both started off attacking each other’s paint. The first few minutes were a battle for boards and second chance points. The Pride’s inside attack started slowing down while the Seawolves’ had its attack working at full throttle.
While trailing 11-7 early on, guard Brian Bernardi nailed two back-to-back three pointers; pushing Hofstra ahead 13-11. The Pride’s offense began to move outside of the arc, where it stayed for most of the half. Stony Brook started creeping out to three point territory, but still kept a presence under Hofstra’s basket.
The Seawolves also had very fluid offensive ball movement. They manipulated Hofstra’s zone to either create an open three-point shot or find a man under the basket. Hofstra played diligent defense, though. Stony Brook could find the open man, but Hofstra made it a challenge to convert. Layups were anything but automatic for both teams.
Forward Rokas Gustys controlled defensive rebounds tonight. He ended up with 13 boards and was two points shy of a double-double. Gustys also ended the Pride’s scoring drought from the inside. Trailing 22-21 with about four minutes left in the first half, Hofstra found success from close range.
The Pride started drawing and converting fouls on their drives. Hofstra shot 75 percent on free throws in the first half, and scooped up eight second chance points. Ameen Tanksley and Bernardi kept the deep ball going as well. Stony Brook still kept the game neck-and-neck with quick three pointers of their own, in addition to a strong contribution from the Seawolves’ bench. Denton Koon’s buzzer-beating three pushed Hofstra ahead 31-27 at the half.
Stony Brook came out and tied the score in the second half immediately. Following that, Hofstra demonstrated quality ball movement on offense. Things swayed back and forth for the rest of the game. With about 10 minutes left, Juan’ya Green came alive for Hofstra. He scored five straight points and broke the 41-41 tie.
After that Hofstra’s inside attack faltered again. On the other hand, Stony Brook kept driving deep. In the closing minutes, the Pride started losing the battle under the basket. Stony Brook scored 20 points in the paint during the second half. Bernardi and Tanksley’s consistency from beyond the arc still kept it a one possession game until the very end. The duo combined for 45 total points. Hofstra as team shot almost 50 percent from deep throughout the game.
Ahmad Walker hit a layup-and-one with forty seconds left, giving Stony Brook a 68-64 lead. Hofstra started fouling right away. With 16 seconds remaining, Tanksley made two free throws and trimmed the Seawolves’ lead to just 70-68. Hofstra fouled again. Stony Brook only hit one of two free throws. Hofstra had 15 seconds to get three points. Koon tried a jumper from mid-range, but missed. Green grabbed the rebound and dashed behind the three point line with two seconds left. He got the shot off on time, but couldn’t knock it down, as Hofstra came up just short to its cross-island rival.
Both teams are now 6-4 after today’s game. On the topic of Hofstra’s defense, Hofstra head coach Joe Mihalich said, "We'll get there, I saw some signs tonight.” The Pride has an opportunity for a quick turnaround this Tuesday, with a home game against a 2-9 Florida Atlantic team. After that Hofstra will play Sacred Heart University, the last game before conference play begins.