Sam Rowley led all scorers with 18 points as Albany beat host Stony Brook 69-60 on Saturday for its second consecutive America East championship and automatic NCAA berth.
DJ Evans added 16 points for Albany (18-14) and Peter Hooley notched 15, including a series of clutch plays late in the game in the absence of Rowley, who fouled out with 7:03 left. Gary Johnson had a game-high 10 rebounds to go with eight points and John Puk added eight points of his own for the Great Danes, who won for the sixth time in their last seven games.
Carson Puriefoy's 13 points led the way for the Seawolves (23-10), who failed in their quest for the first NCAA tournament bid in school history. Jameel Warney had 12 points and a team-best nine rebounds and Rayshaun McGrew added 10 points off the bench for Stony Brook, which never got going from long range, converting just 2-of-14 from behind the arc.
The Seawolves used 10 straight points to establish a 44-38 lead with 11:31 remaining.
before the Great Danes roared back with eight straight, regaining the lead on a layup from Rowley with 8:44 to play. A pair of free throws from Puk and a jumper from Hooley put Albany in front 58-54 with 1:44 left and after Puriefoy brought Stony Brook back to within two points, Hooley delivered the dagger with a 3-pointer and the Great Danes drained eight consecutive free throws to secure the win.
After Stony Brook stormed in front with a 9-0 run off the opening tip, Albany answered with 10 unanswered points of its own to ignite a game full of alternating runs from the start. Evans paced the first-half offense for the Great Danes, scoring 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting as Albany took a 34-31 advantage into halftime.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Albany last captured back-to-back America East titles in the 2006 and 2007 seasons. ... Stony Brook was 37-3 in its last 40 home games, including a 24-1 mark on its homecourt against conference opponents coming into the game. ... The Great Danes, who led the America East in free-throw percentage at 74.3 percent entering play, converted 18-of-19 from the free-throw line.