After a hard fought road victory over Manhattan College on Tuesday, Jan. 1, men’s basketball returned home on Saturday afternoon to open America East Conference play against the Wildcats of the University of New Hampshire. The Seawolves entered the game with a record of 9-4 on the season. New Hampshire came in 4-9 overall and 0-1 in America East games. Stony Brook has won the America East’s regular season title, which results in an automatic National Invitational Tournament (NIT) berth, in two of the last three seasons–the Seawolves finished 14-2 in conference play during the 2011-12 season.
New Hampshire outscored the Seawolves 10-8 over the first 4:05 of play, a stretch that culminated when Wildcat forward Patrick Konan banked in a three. Konan’s shot came after Stony Brook guard Anthony Jackson connected on a trey to put the Seawolves up 8-7.
Both teams missed their ensuing five shots from the field before forward Tommy Brenton connected on a contested dunk with 11:17 remaining in the first half to cut the Seawolves’ deficit to 12-10. A layup by forward Jameel Warney tied the game at 12 apiece before a three-pointer by guard Marcus Rouse gave the home team a 15-12 lead 8:39 before halftime.
After Warney converted a layup to give the Seawolves a 21-16 lead with 5:59 left in the half, he blocked a shot, leading to a transition layup by forward Ron Bracey. A dunk and a layup, both by Warney, extended the Stony Brook lead to 27-18. The Seawolves took their first double-digit lead of the afternoon, 32-20, when guard Carson Puriefoy sank three foul shots with 1:44 remaining in first half play.
Stony Brook led 32-22 at halftime. Puriefoy led all scorers in the first half with 9 points. Warney was solid, scoring 8 points and also playing tough defense, blocking 4 shots. Guard Chandler Rhoads led the Wildcats with 6 points over the first 20 minutes.
A trey by Rhoads cut the Stony Brook lead to 35-28 2:25 into the second half. However, the Seawolves quickly regained an 11-point lead, 39-28, on a jumper by Jackson and free throws by Brenton. Following a three by Konan with 11:43 remaining that brought New Hampshire back to within singles digits, Warney connected on another dunk and a layup to give Stony Brook a 46-34 lead.
Still, New Hampshire proved relentless. After guard Marcus Rouse sank a three-pointer to give the Seawolves a 51-39 lead with 7:29 remaining, Konan immediately responded with a trey of his own. The Wildcats cut further into the Stony Brook lead when Rhoads hit three consecutive free throws with 6:08 left in regulation to bring the visitors to within 55-47.
At the end of the day, however, the Seawolves proved to be too much for New Hampshire to handle. With Stony Brook winning 55-47, Rouse and guard Leonard Hayes hit consecutive shots from “downtown” to open a 63-47 lead with just under 2:00 remaining.
Warney led the Seawolves in scoring with 18 points for the game. Brenton contributed 5 points and pulled down 5 rebounds for the home team. Rhoads, who shot 7-11 from the free throw line, led the Wildcats with 14 points. Stony Brook played excellent defense, an element noted by Coach Steve Pikiell, holding New Hampshire to only 30 percent shooting from the field and only 26 percent from beyond the arc.
With the 65-49 win, the Seawolves improve to 10-4 on the season and 1-0 in conference play. Stony Brook will continue its America East schedule at Binghamton University on Wednesday, Jan. 9. The team returns home on Saturday, Jan. 12 when it hosts the University of Hartford at 2PM.