Stony Brook, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Yet another ticket to the NCAA Tournament will be punched after the culmination of the America East Conference Tournament championship, featuring the fourth-seeded Albany Great Danes and the second-seeded Stony Brook Seawolves at Pritchard Gymnasium.
Albany took down UMBC in the quarterfinal round earlier this week, then upset top-ranked Vermont, 67-58, in a shocking victory that led the team to the championship contest. Albany has won five of its last six games coming into the title fight.
Stony Brook has never won the America East title before in the team's Division I history, and will seek its first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Seawolves beat Maine easily in the quarterfinal round of the conference tournament, and edged out Hartford in the semifinal round, 69-64, to earn a berth in the championship game.
Albany leads the all-time series between the two squads, 37-26. The two teams met twice during the regular season, with each program winning on their home floor. Albany's last loss was to the Seawolves back on March 2.
It's been nearly a week since the Great Danes last took the court in a thrilling victory over top-ranked Vermont. Albany took an early lead against the Catamounts and never looked back, having the advantage the rest of the way. The Great Danes held Vermont to just 38.2 percent shooting in the game, including 9-of-20 from 3-point range. Peter Hooley scored 26 points to lead the Danes, hitting 10-of-15 from the free-throw line and 4-of-10 from beyond the arc. Gary Johnson tallied a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds in the victory. Hooley leads the team in scoring with 15.7 ppg, hitting 40.9 percent of his shot attempts from the floor and 85.6 percent from the free- throw line. Sam Rowley chips in 11.3 ppg, and D.J. Evans and Johnson tally 11 ppg each.
Stony Brook took a two-point advantage over Hartford at the end of the first half in Sunday's semifinal contest, 33-31. The Seawolves were able to slowly piece together more of a cushion in the game, which was sealed with a Carson Puriefoy layup down the stretch. Puriefoy led the team with 21 points in the contest, adding four assists and two steals. Anthony Jackson scored 14 points, and Jameel Warney chipped in 10 points with nine rebounds. Stony Brook shot 56.3 percent from the floor in the win. Warney enters the championship game as the team's leading scorer, netting 14.6 ppg, adding a team-best 7.9 rpg mark. Puriefoy is second on the squad with 13 ppg, and Jackson adds 12.7 ppg for the Seawolves, who score 72.2 ppg as a unit.