After securing consecutive home victories over Hartford and Boston University, Stony Brook men’s basketball began a two-game road trip, Friday, Jan. 18, against the University of Vermont Catamounts in Burlington. The Seawolves entered the game with an overall record of 13-4 and a conference record of 4-0. The Catamounts, who had won their previous two meetings with Stony Brook, including a 51-43 road triumph in the America East title game on March 10, 2012, came in with an 11-6 record on the season (4-1 in America East games).
The game got off to a quick and physical start, with each team capitalizing on opportunities to earn points. When the score saw Stony Brook down 18-13 they started to show some toughness in order to close the point gap. A jumper by Stony Brook guard Dave Coley rimmed out, but the ball was dunked home by forward Jameel Warney to cut the team’s deficit to 18-15. Then, Warney blocked a shot leading to a transition lay-up by Coley. The Seawolves tied the game at 20 on a three-point play by Coley, 6:38 before halftime.
The Catamounts controlled play late in the first half, and they took a 32-27 lead into halftime. Warney led all scorers in the first half with 10 points. He also collected eight rebounds and blocked two shots. Guard Candon Rusin and forward Clancy Rugg led Vermont with eight points apiece over the first 20 minutes. The Seawolves were sloppy with the ball in the first half, committing 10 turnovers that led to 10 Catamount points—Vermont committed only four first half turnovers.
The game seemingly got away from Stony Brook early in the second half. After guard Carson Puriefoy cut the Seawolves’ deficit to 32-29 on an early jumper, the Catamounts went on a 12-0 run. This spurt was highlighted when forward Brian Voelkel found forward Ethan O’Day for a lay-up on a nifty behind-the-back pass. The home team took its first double digit lead of the game, 39-29, on this play. Stony Brook hurt itself during Vermont’s run by missing three lay-ups.
The Seawolves would not go away, however. Down by a game-high 18 points, forward Scott King nailed a three-point shot to bring Stony Brook to within 55-40. Then, with 6:23 remaining in regulation, King sank another trey, and Stony Brook trailed only 58-47. After Coley hit two technical free throws, the Seawolves pulled to within six points on a Puriefoy three-pointer with 5:36 left.
With under 3:30 remaining, Rugg missed three out of four free throws to give Stony Brook further hope of a comeback. Off these misses, Stony Brook forward Tommy Brenton hit only his second field goal of the game, a dunk, to cut the Catamounts’ lead 65-61. The Seawolves could not get any closer, however, and Vermont was able to hang on for an 81-73 victory.
Rusin led all scorers with 25 points for the game. Rugg had a double-double, scoring 19 points and bringing down 15 rebounds. Coley and Warney both scored 15 points to lead the Seawolves. King was solid with a career high 14 points for the game. Brenton, coming off consecutive double-doubles, struggled with only 10 points and two rebounds.
With the 81-73 loss, the Seawolves fall to a 13-5 overall record for the season and 4-1 in conference game. Stony Brook is now 1-11 in its last twelve games at Vermont; its only victory in this span was a 65-60 triumph on Jan. 21, 2010. The Seawolves’ road trip continues on Wednesday, Jan. 23, when the team visits the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The team returns home, Saturday, Jan. 26, to host the University of Maine at 2PM.