(HEATHER KHALIFA / THE STATESMAN)
The Seawolves played their final game in the 2014 NIT Season Tip-Off on Saturday afternoon against St. Thomas Aquinas College. Stony Brook won the game 70-49 and finished 3-1 in the tournament. (HEATHER KHALIFA / THE STATESMAN)

On Saturday afternoon, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team played its final game of the 2014 NIT Season Tip-Off against St. Thomas Aquinas College. The Seawolves controlled the entire game against the Division II opponent and won 70-49, finishing 3-1 in the tournament.

The Seawolves lost their first game of the tournament against the University of Georgia, 80-70, and then won the next two against Western Kentucky (71-61) and Long Island University Brooklyn (73-54). It was the team’s second time hosting a non-Division I opponent this season. Saturday’s contest was a result of the new formatting for the NIT Tip-Off.

“It was nice to get some extra games,” Stony Brook Head Coach Steve Pikiell said on playing Division II STAC and Division III United States Merchant Marines Academy.

In a perennial one-bid conference like the America East, the non-conference schedule serves as an opportunity to prepare for the conference schedule as opposed to building a resume for a potential at-large bid into the NCAA tournament. Over the past 16 days, the Seawolves played seven games.

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“I think we’ve grown a lot. I’ve figured out my rotation. We’ve played all types of teams and it’ll help us later on when we don’t have much preparation time in conference play,” Pikiell said.

Allowing only 16 first-half points on Saturday, the defense carried Stony Brook to a 21-point lead at the half, 37-16. St. Thomas was held to 26 percent from the field in the first half. Stony Brook was led on defense by captain Jameel Warney who had five blocks and 10 defensive rebounds in the game.

On offense, sophomore guard Kameron Mitchell led the Seawolves, going 4-5 from three point range and finishing with 14 points, setting a new career high.

“Its huge. My teammates got me involved early and allowed me to get in a rhythm,” said Mitchell on his career day.

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Uncharacteristically, junior point guard Carson Puriefoy had five of the ten Stony Brook turnovers. St Thomas put on a full-court press the majority of the second half, forcing several of the turnovers.

“I think (the press) was great,” Puriefoy said. “Cincinnati likes to press and so did Western Kentucky so it’ll be important to play games like these.”

On Tuesday, the Seawolves will travel to the University of Cincinnati to face the Bearcats, who are 5-1 on the season. Tuesday’s game will be part of a four-game road trip for the Seawolves, with games against Cincinnati, Princeton, Providence and Canisius.

“We focus on one game at a time,” Pikiell said. “Right now we have one day to get ready for Cincinnati and we’ll worry about Princeton after that.”

The Seawolves will not return to Island FCU Arena until Dec. 21, when they will host Loyola University Maryland. SBU has an overall record of 5-2 this season, and is now 4-0 at home this season.

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