After falling to SBU (23-6) at Patrick Gym last month, the Vermont Catamounts (19-12) redeemed themselves at Island Federal Credit Union Arena on Senior Night, spoiling the Stony Brook Seawolves’s bid for a perfect season at home.
“It’s been an unbelievable ride with these guys but it’s not over,” Stony Brook Head Coach Steve Pikiell said. “We missed some free throws and open shots, but what we set out [to] do was win the league and earn home court, which was accomplished.”
Both teams had four players averaging 10 points or more coming into the game. Redshirt freshman Ernie Duncan, one of the Catamounts to do so, put on a shooting clinic for SBU spectators. He made all four of this three-point attempts, helping the Catamounts secure a solid 76-62 win.
Duncan led the team in scoring with 23 points, tying his career high. He made eight of his 12 field goal attempts and also had six rebounds. Duncan is the third-best scorer on Vermont, with 11.2 points per game behind senior Ethan O’Day (11.4) and sophomore Trae Bell-Haynes (11.7)
Haynes turned it up the second half, scoring 11 of his 16 total points and earning a nice field goal percentage. . He went 6-12 from the field and looked fearless driving hard to the basket. Other than score, the sophomore from Toronto didn’t do much. He had a team-high five turnovers, and finished with three boards, a steal and an assist.
The 6-9 O’Day matched up with 6-8 SBU senior Jameel Warney. O’Day was able to tally 10 points in 31 minutes of play. He had the only block for the Catamounts and went 4-9 shooting from the field. He also had four rebounds and made both of his free throws.
The seniors for SBU carried most of their team’s scoring load. Rayshaun McGrew led with 17 points and nine rebounds. Behind him was Carson Puriefoy with 16 points, which included four three-pointers. Finishing third in scoring was Warney, who finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and all four of the team’s blocks. The seniors combined to score 46 of the team’s 62 overall points.
“Even though it didn’t pan out like we wanted it to, it’s been great to reflect on the hard work we put in four years,” senior Jameel Warney said after the game about going into the conference playoffs. “Now the real season begins.”
It is difficult to win basketball games if a team cannot make free throws. That has been SBU’s main concern all season. If they want to win the America East Playoffs, they need to remedy this They are a team shooting 67 percent from the foul line for the season. Against Vermont, they shot 7-19 at a meagre 36.8 percent. Vermont, meanwhile, made 14 of its 18 free throw attempts.
It’s also difficult to win games when the opposing team makes 10 threes and shoots over 50 percent. Bell-Haynes, junior Kurt Steidl, and freshman Cam Ward all made two three-point field goals each. Duncan was the star of the night, sinking all four of his threes.
SBU usually wins the rebounding category, but they were outrebounded by Vermont 37-31. The Catamounts had five players with four rebounds or more.
The America East playoffs start on March 2. The Seawolves are hosting the tournament. Since they won the America East regular season title with a 14-2 conference record, they will play every game at home. . SBU will host the No. 8-seed UMBC (7-24) at 7:00 p.m. Vermont will host the No. 6-seed Maine in Patrick gym at 7:30 p.m.