STONY BROOK, N.Y. — Stony Brook University surged to an early 15-point lead, then held off a determined charge by the University of Maine to earn a 55-48 America East men’s basketball victory on Sunday afternoon.
With the victory the Seawolves (20-8, 14-2 AE) clinched the regular-season title and earned the top seed for the upcoming America East championship tournament at the University of Hartford in West Hartford, Conn.
Coach Ted Woodward’s Black Bears (12-16, 6-10 AE) go into the tournament as the No. 7 seed. UMaine will play second-seeded Vermont (20-11, 13-3 AE) in Saturday’s 6:05 p.m. quarterfinal.
Stony Brook awaits the winner of Thursday’s first-round game between No. 8 Maryland Baltimore County and No. 9 Binghamton.
On Sunday, UMaine could not completely overcome the early deficit. The Bears fought back to within a point at 36-35 and later was within one at 40-39, but could not make the plays to gain the lead.
UMaine missed several open perimeter shots and close-range opportunities on drives to the basket.
Alasdair Fraser led the way for the Bears with 12 points and 10 rebounds, but only four of his points came after intermission. Justin Edwards posted 12 points and three assists, while Kilian Cato and Gerald McLemore provided eight points each.
Mike Allison pulled down seven rebounds.
McLemore struggled to a 1-for-12 shooting performance but went 5-for-5 from the foul line. The Bears shot 32 percent overall and connected on only 4 of 21 shots from 3-point range.
Dallis Joyner paced a balanced effort for Stony Brook with 12 points and six rebounds. Brian Dougher (3-for-13) tallied nine points and five rebounds, while three others added seven points apiece.
Stony Brook bolted to a 15-4 lead in the first 4½ minutes behind eight points from Dougher, including a pair of 3-pointers. The Seawolves extended the margin to 26-11 on a Tommy Brenton layup at the 8:42 mark.
UMaine later clawed back within six and trailed only 30-24 at halftime.
The Bears opened the second half with a 12-5 run that included two hoops by Fraser and made it 36-35 on three McLemore foul shots with 13:16 left. They came up empty on their next six possessions.
UMaine couldn’t convert for the equalizing basket the rest of the way and the Seawolves salted it away from the foul line.