Throughout the season, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team has lived and died by the three. The Seawolves are 3-1 in games in which they shot over 35 percent from three-point range.
But Thursday night’s 59-56 upset win against New Hampshire was not a typical Stony Brook win. Success did not stem from beyond the arc, but rather from inside the paint.
Junior forward Tyrell Sturdivant led the way down low with a team-high 20 points, scoring 16 in the second half alone. He also grabbed seven rebounds, five of which were offensive boards, and had a block.
After trailing seven points at halftime, the Seawolves were poised to make a comeback. Redshirt junior forward Roland Nyama and senior guard Kameron Mitchell opened up the second half, each scoring from three-point range on consecutive possessions. However, it was Sturdivant, who scored a layup off of a missed three-pointer from senior guard Lucas Woodhouse, who tied the game at 30.
After battling to a 35-33 deficit, Sturdivant tied the game again, this time maneuvering his way into the paint for another layup.
Nyama scored another three to push the Seawolves ahead, 38-37, after Wildcats’ forward Tanner Leissner scored two points in the paint. Leissner had a game-high 25 points, while Nyama notched 14 points on the night, including a 12-point outburst in the second half.
The two teams went back-and-forth until junior guard Bryan Sekunda sunk a shot from downtown to give the Seawolves a 43-42 lead. Nyama made another shot from behind the arc to push the lead to four. With eight minutes left, it was Stony Brook’s game to lose.
However, Sturdivant scored six straight points to maintain a two-point lead with less than three minutes left in the game.
New Hampshire guard Jaleen Smith responded with a game-tying field goal, evening the game at 52 with 2:29 left on the clock. Sekunda made another three, his second of the game, to push Stony Brook’s lead back to three.
Sturdivant soon put the icing on the cake, scoring four points to close out the game and give the Seawolves their first conference win over the Wildcats, who were ranked No. 2 in the America East preseason polls.
Despite Stony Brook jumping out to an early four-point lead, Leissner was able to help New Hampshire battle back from the free throw line, scoring seven points from the charity stripe. In fact, all of the Wildcats’ points in the last five minutes of the first half came from Leissner at the line.
Despite Leissner’s first half performance, which gave the team a seven-point lead going into halftime, New Hampshire’s defense crumbled inside the paint. The Seawolves were also able to take advantage of forward Iba Camara’s foul trouble. Camara is the second leading rebounder in the America East, but was only able to grab six total boards against Stony Brook.
Next up for Stony Brook is a game against conference rivals Albany on Jan. 8. The last time the two teams played, the Great Danes broke the Seawolves 18-game winning streak at the SEFCU Arena in Albany. Despite losing talent in the 2016 graduating class, Albany was ranked No. 3 in the America East preseason polls.