Seton Hall had to scrap for their eleventh win of the season. - Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Down 18-8 and overwhelmed by Stony Brook just 5:30 into the game, Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard demanded a timeout to stop the bleeding. Willard inserted sharpshooting Brian Oliver and implemented a full court press after the all-important timeout which immediately yielded a six point swing and a new ball game.
Oliver sank threes on back-to-back possessions that preceded four more first half long balls en route to tallying a team high 20 points before the break. The six 3-pointers put Oliver on pace to tie Jamel Jackson’s record for made threes in a game (12, VMI) and also put Seton Hall ahead by 7 points at the half. Unfortunately, Oliver was relegated to the bench for most of the second half because of a stomach virus and was rendered a non-factor when he did enter the game.
Going into the second half, it was always certain that Stony Brook, a team that nearly knocked off Maryland a week ago, would refuse to crumble under pressure. The Seawolves did all that and then some as they pushed the Pirates to the brink, holding Seton Hall to just one made field goal during an eight minute second half span and five total field goals in the half. Stony Brook led by as many as four points in the second half.
Realizing their predicament as the clock dwindled down, Seton Hall remained calm and fed the ball to always hungry Eugene Teague and Brandon Mobley during a back and forth stretch of play after the under-12 timeout. More importantly, the Pirates relied on some lock down defense to deny Stony Brook a second upset bid in as many games. While defending a 1-point lead, Tom Maayan came up huge on the defensive end in another clutch scenario as he deflected Stony Brook’s inbound pass with :03.6 to play in the game. The Seawolves' designed play was successfully disrupted, leading to Anthony Jackson firing off a desperation winning attempt from deep that fell short.
With former standout guard Bryan Dougher watching from behind their bench, Stony Brook nearly pulled off an upset that strongly resembled their performance at Walsh Gym in the first round of the NIT last March. Similarly, Dougher clanged a game winning three point attempt in that game and Seton Hall escaped with a narrow win as a Stony Brook tip-in attempt of Dougher's shot fell off the rim at the buzzer.
If anything, tonight showed versatility on Seton Hall’s behalf. Unlike their fast paced affair with Long Island, tonight’s battle with Stony Brook ground to a halt midway through the second half as both teams cooled on offense and began to shift their focus to defense. Tonight's blood pressure aggravating game foreshadows what lies ahead of Kevin Willard and his simmering Pirates on the Big East horizon.