On Tuesday night, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team (5-3) travelled to Cincinnati to play the Cincinnati Bearcats (6-1), in search of the Seawolves’ fifth-straight victory and first win against a power-six conference opponent. However, the Bearcats’ defense proved to be too much for the Seawolves to handle, as they fell 78-52, dropping their record in games away from Island FCU Arena to 1-3.
Despite the momentum the Seawolves brought into the game, things started off inauspiciously, as they found themselves being outmuscled and outworked by the Bearcats. Cincinnati jumped out to 21-10 lead and an 8-4 advantage on the boards approximately 10 minutes into the game.
From that point forward, Cincinnati set the tone and watched its lead continue to balloon, due in part to Stony Brook’s difficulty in closing out on three point shooters and in disrupting the flow to Cincinnati’s offense.
Although the Bearcats finished the first half with a perfect 4-4 from the three-point line and a staggering 14-28 from the field, Stony Brook was able to stay (barely) within arm’s reach, trailing at 38-23 at halftime.
As the second half unfolded, the game’s narrative stayed the same, with the Seawolves hanging around and staying close enough to make it a game, as they trailed 42-27 with 16:41 left in the game.
However, a jump shot by freshman forward Gary Clark ignited an 8-0 run by Cincinnati, helping the Bearcats open a 50-27 lead and effectively putting the game away early in the second half.
Much of Stony Brook’s struggles were due in large part to the Seawolves’ inability to create consistent half court offense against Cincinnati’s suffocating defense, as evidenced by their 15:14 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Bearcats then capitalized on those giveaways, scoring 21 points off of turnovers.
Cincinnati’s size may have also played a large factor in the Stony Brook’s offensive struggles, as the Seawolves were only able to shoot 40.4 percent from the field, including a meager 15.4 percent from the three-point line.
Another reason for the team’s lackluster showing might be fatigue. Tuesday’s road matchup signaled Stony Brook’s seventh game in 14 days, which spanned five different venues ranging from Madison Square Garden in New York City, Georgia and Ohio.
Even though Stony Brook struggled to muster anything substantial on offense or defense, the Seawolves are showing encouraging signs of growth as they navigate through their non-conference schedule.
For example, the Seawolves were able to edge Cincinnati in points in the paint and second-chance points, demonstrating tenacity and persistence despite a substantial disadvantage in size.
A large part of the Seawolves’ success in the paint was the promising play of six-foot-eleven-inch freshman Jakub Petras, who had career-high seven points, along with four rebounds, and perhaps most importantly, only one foul in 17 minutes of play.
And once again, Jameel Warney proved that the Seawolves can rely on him regardless of the circumstance, as he notched his NCAA-best seventh double-double with a 14-point, 10-rebound performance.
Following the loss, Stony Brook should look to building more continuity on offense as the Seawolves travel to New Jersey to face the Princeton Tigers on Saturday for the second of a four-game road stretch.