The Seawolves’ were their own worst enemy in a 56-52 win over the Hartford Hawks, with 33.9 percent of their possessions ending in a turnover.
“It’s been a little bit of a problem for us for the past few games so we really gotta get that straightened out… The turnovers are really killing us right now, and a lot of our veteran guards too have struggled with turnovers. We’re a little out of sync, we haven’t had time really to practice, it’s been game after game after game,” coach Steve Pikiell said after the victory.
Stony Brook was without third-leading scorer on the year Carson Puriefoy, who is day-to-day with a groin injury. In their first match-up with the Seawolves since their 23-point defeat last month, the Hawks came in without their top gun – Mark Nwakamma – but challenged the Seawolves throughout the contest.
Stony Brook trailed for a stretch of about 14 minutes in the opening half and trailed by as much as seven in the second half. The Hawks hoisted up three after three and got out on a 14-0 run in the early part of the latter half with the Seawolves offense in shambles.
Pikiell turned to a four-guard lineup for a five-minute swing at this point, with leading scorer Jameel Warney banged up and having taken only one shot in the first half and turnovers being the key issue. This relatively unplayed lineup, featuring the three starting guards Dave Coley, Anthony Jackson and Ahmad Walker along with Ben Resner or Kameron Mitchell – who took Puriefoy’s spot in the rotation – proved successful as the Seawolves pulled within one with five minutes remaining.
“We’ve never really played that lineup, we’re a big team, but they have all guards running around the perimeter, shooting threes, so we went with that lineup just to match their ability to shoot. It’s hard for your big guys to fight through screens and flares and dribble handoffs,” Pikiell said.
This run gave Stony Brook life, and their starters finished the job behind Warney, who suddenly found his offense and finished with 11 points on 4-8 shooting from the field. Leading the team were Jackson and Coley, who each had 12 points.
Jackson and Coley were the most aggressive players on the court for Stony Brook, attacking the paint and drawing fouls when the team’s offense could not buy a bucket. A big help on the offensive end for the Seawolves was also their offensive rebounding, earning them 11 second chance points in the second half.
“When you’re playing a team that spreads the floor like that, they really affect you and they’re packed in a zone so you don’t have the rebounding lanes. Plus, when you turn the ball over you can’t get offensive rebounds, so I thought we played with good energy,” Pikiell said.
The game came down to a couple of missed threes to tie the ball game by Hartford’s Corban Wroe with 30 seconds left and Nate Sikma with under 10 ticks remaining. Jackson iced a free throw to extend the Seawolves lead to four, making this Stony Brook’s seventh win in their last eight games.
“It’s been a hard stretch here, a little bit of a grind for us… Jameel wasn’t 100 percent, Eric’s been bothered by the flu, its the middle of the season we’ve been going at it for nine months now. The guys are getting a little worn down, so we encompassed everything tonight,“ Pikiell said.
The Seawolves are now 8-1 in their division and 16-7 overall. Their next game is at Binghamton on Feb. 4.