In a tournament structure where momentum is just as important as talent, the Seawolves shot out of the gates at the America East Quarterfinals, blowing out Maine 80-54.
The contest was never in question for Stony Brook, who went on a 7-0 run to start the game and never looked back from there.
The Seawolves continually built on their lead with a stifling defense and a flowing offense, extending their initial gap to 17 over midway into the first half, 25 as it neared its end and a game-high 34-point margin nine minutes into the latter half.
“I thought we looked focused, had great energy and played outstanding defense against the top scoring team in the league. It was a complete 40-minute effort,” head coach Steve Pikiell said after the game.
“Hopefully, we are playing our best basketball at the right time as we now get ready for tomorrow’s semifinals.”
Individually, the Seawolves left their marks. AE Player of the Year Jameel Warney tallied 15 points and eight rebounds on on 6-10 shooting from the field.
Warney looked especially spry tonight, seemingly the most energetic he has been all season.
He swatted away four shot attempts-including one two-handed spike that he subsequently dove out of bounds for-and came away with two steals.
Carson Puriefoy added 14 points, Dave Coley dropped 13 with five boards and each had three steals.
A couple of Seawolves who spent the regular season in and out of the rotation stepped up as well.
Rayshaun McGrew played 24 minutes, scoring nine points and collecting nine rebounds.
Kameron Mitchell had 10 minutes of action, connecting on one three-pointer.
For all of the strong individual performances by Stony Brook, it was the effort as a team that carried them to such a convincing victory.
For 40 minutes, the offense never stagnated, with off-ball movement and high-low passing at a maximum.
The finesse of each possession did not take away from the team’s usual physicality, which hit another level on this night.
The Seawolves took a whopping 29 free throws- making 22-and grabbing 44 total rebounds, only the third time all season Stony Brook has reached these numbers. Maine’s leading scorer, Xavier Pollard, fouled out of the game in just 25 minutes.
For all of Maine’s length and athleticism, the Seawolves were the more aggresive bunch all game long, even beating the Black Bears at their own game.
Maine leads the America East in tempo, by a very sizeable margin. Most of their offensive possessions consisted of just a single pass, then a shot.
However it was Stony Brook that took the transiton battle, storming down court at every opportunity en route to 10 fast break points to Maine’s nilch.
The Seawolves were almost too comfortable at giving Maine a taste of their own medicine, when Puriefoy attempted a flashy off the backboard lob to Ahmad Walker with the game out of reach.
Walker just managed to put the ball in, much to the chagrin of Maine’s players and coaching staff.
On the defensive end, Stony Brook was masterful.
Sixth in the AE in offensive efficiency, Maine was held to 38.9 percent shooting from inside the arc and 16 percent from downtown.
Their season averages in conference play were 50.2 percent from two-point range and 32.1 percent from three.
The Seawolves also forced 23 turnovers, the most giveaways by an opponent all season.
Riding the momentum of this blowout victory, the Seawolves will now prepare to face Hartford on Sunday at SEFCU arena.
Check out sbstatesman.com for the game story on the semi-final game against No. 3 Hartford.
The game between Stony Brook and Hartford ended too late to go into this publication.