STONY BROOK — The Cameron Healy that the UAlbany men’s basketball team needed to show up for it to have a chance in its America East Conference quarterfinal was there Saturday night at Island Federal Arena.
Stony Brook, though, was too tough.
“Somebody had to win, somebody had to lose,” UAlbany head coach Will Brown said, “and we came up on the short end.”
The Seawolves ended UAlbany’s season with a 76-73 postseason victory, as a game-high 28 points from Healy — a redshirt sophomore who had struggled for weeks after suffering a hip/back injury — wasn’t enough to lead the Great Danes into the semifinals. Stony Brook advanced to Tuesday’s semifinal round to play Hartford, while Vermont will meet UMBC in the conference’s other semifinal.
“A high-level college basketball game,” Stony Brook head coach Geno Ford said of the contest, which included seven lead changes and eight ties. “The second half, that’s as well as we’ve played in months, arguably all year. I thought [the Great Danes] were terrific, as well. Coach Brown brought them in here, [and] we knew it was going to be a hard game. They were really sharp, and I thought they played as well as they’ve probably played in a month.”
Largely, that was because Healy — who had scored 35 points in his last seven games — played up to his normal standards. He made 6 of 10 3-pointers and scored 21 of his points after halftime.
“I just knew that I was going to be aggressive,” Healy said. “Shots haven’t been falling for me recently, and I just tried to get out of my own way . . . and just stick to my game plan.”
Healy hit one shot after another during one stretch in the second half, helping UAlbany steady itself after Stony Brook pushed ahead 54-46 with 11:40 to go. After a 3-pointer from UAlbany senior Romani Hansen, Healy scored 19 of UAlbany’s next 21 points as it built a 70-67 lead with less than three minutes to go.
“It’s hard,” Ford said of defending Healy, “when a guy gets locked in at that level.”
From there, though, things unraveled for the Great Danes. Stony Brook redshirt junior Makale Foreman tied the game at 70 with a 3 with less than two minutes to go, and UAlbany’s next possession saw redshirt sophomore Brent Hank split a pair of free throws, but the Great Danes get the ball back after he missed the second because it went out of bounds off Stony Brook. Up 71-70 with less than a minute to go, UAlbany worked the ball to sophomore Antonio Rizzuto for a good look from 3-point territory.
But the shot missed, and Hank’s attempt to prolong the possession with an offensive rebound was derailed with a whistle from the referee for an over-the-back foul. That sent Stony Brook sophomore Miles Latimer to the foul line for a pair of free throws, which he made to put the Seawolves ahead with 51.9 seconds to go. From there, upset-minded UAlbany had chances, but never could pull back even or go ahead as its season closed with a six-game losing streak.
“Brent was trying to make what he perceived to be a winning play,” Brown said. “He was trying to be aggressive. He went for an offensive rebound and went over the guy’s back. It was a good call by the official, without question. We need to be a little smarter in that situation and realize that we’re not getting that rebound. We need to get back on defense — and we’re up one.”
After Latimer made the free throws for Stony Brook (No. 2, 20-12), senior Kendall Lauderdale missed a go-ahead jumper for UAlbany (No. 7, 14-18). The Great Danes fouled after that miss, and Healy made a layup following two Stony Brook free throws, but UAlbany then had to foul again — and Stony Brook converted the free throws again. At the buzzer, a long 3-point attempt from Rizzuto was close, but didn’t sink through to force overtime.
Foreman had 23 points to lead Stony Brook, which led 30-28 at halftime and had five players score at least 11 points. For UAlbany, three players scored at least 10 points in addition to Healy, including senior Ahmad Clark, who scored 14 points and had six assists and four steals in his final game with the Great Danes.
“He was outstanding for us this year,” Brown said of Clark, a second-team all-conference selection. “Wish I had one more year to coach him.”
Instead, UAlbany will need to replace Clark and retool ahead of the 2020-21 campaign. Injuries robbed UAlbany throughout the 2019-20 campaign and the squad only had 10 available scholarship players for Saturday’s game, but the Great Danes still wanted their tough campaign to continue past the weekend.
“I wasn’t ready to go home,” Healy said. “We’re not ready to go home — and, unfortunately, we are now. But that was the mindset: just keep fighting.”
Hansen 4-5 0-0 10, Hank 0-3 2-4 2, Rizzuto 4-8 0-1 11, Hutcheson 1-5 0-0 3, Clark 4-18 5-6 14, de Sousa 0-0 0-0 0, Healy 10-16 2-2 28, Lauderdale 2-3 1-2 5, French 0-0 0-0 0, Shafer 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 25-58 10-15 73.
Otchere 0-0 0-1 0, Foreman 6-14 8-8 23, Olaniyi 4-11 2-6 11, Stephenson-Moore 1-3 0-0 3, Garcia 3-8 4-4 12, Latimer 4-5 2-2 13, Gueye 5-8 4-5 14, Pierre Philippe 0-1 0-0 0, McKenzie 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 23-50 20-26 76.
Halftime score: Stony Brook 30, UAlbany 28. Three-point shooting: UAlbany 13-28 (Hansen 2-2, Rizzuto 3-7, Hutcheson 1-3, Clark 1-6, Healy 6-10), Stony Brook 10-25 (Foreman 3-9, Olaniyi 1-2, Stephenson-Moore 1-3, Garcia 2-4, Latimer 3-4, Gueye 0-2, Pierre Philippe 0-1). Rebounds: UAlbany 30 (Hansen, Hank 6), Stony Brook 33 (Gueye 7). Assists: UAlbany 14 (Clark 6), Stony Brook 11 (Foreman, Olaniyi 3). Turnovers: UAlbany 11, Stony Brook 14. Total fouls: UAlbany 21, Stony Brook 15. Attendance: 2,166.