Illinois Basketball 2010
NIT First Round Recap - Illinois vs Stony Brook
(1) Illinois 76, (8) Stony Brook 66
The top-seeded Illinois Fighting Illini were unable to host their first-round game due to a scheduling conflict. So the disappointed Illini, who may have been the last team left out of the NCAA Tournament, were forced to travel halfway across the country to play in an extremely hostile environment.
The Stony Brook Seawolves, located on the north shore of Long Island, N.Y., have only been a Division I basketball school since 1999. Wednesday night’s game was billed as the biggest in school history, was the school’s first appearance on national television, and the crowd did not disappoint.
In front of a raucous sea of red, the Seawolves came out firing early. A full 18 of their first 28 shots were three-point attempts (they made six), and in the final minute of the first half, the score was tied 36-36.
That’s as good as it would get for SBU, however.
Demitri McCamey nailed a difficult 16-foot fadeaway jumper at the first-half buzzer to give the Illini a 38-36 lead at halftime. Then, on the first Illinois possession of the second half, McCamey nailed a trey to stretch the lead to five. A Mike Tisdale three-pointer gave the Illini a nine-point edge less than two minutes into the second half. D.J. Richardson soon stretched the Illinois lead to 10 with another three-pointer.
Illinois never pulled away, but stayed ahead the whole second half to close out a 76-66 win.
Despite the loss, it was a step in the right direction for a fledgling Stony Brook program, and a tasty appetizer for fans of college hoops.
In collegiate sports, sometimes a gem appears at the unlikeliest time, in the unlikeliest place. That’s the beauty of being a fan.
Illinois hosts the Kent State Golden Flashes in the second round on Monday night (yes, there will be no scheduling conflict with Assembly Hall this time). Kent State won the regular-season Mid American Conference title, but was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the league tournament. Kent State squeaked past Tulsa 75-74 in its first round NIT game.
The Flashes are led by four-time all-conference point guard Chris Singletary and sophomore forward Justin Greene, whom the Kent State official athletic website calls “the most improved player in the nation this season.”