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(HEATHER KHALIFA / THE STATESMAN)

In a young season where every win has come at home or on neutral ground and for a program that has missed its mark so many times, this win could not have been any sweeter. For all the faults that come with a squad littered with freshmen and absent senior leadership, this team could not have dreamed of a more perfect outcome.

Despite porous outputs from its two leading juniors, Stony Brook defeated the formerly-undefeated No. 13 Washington Huskies in Seattle, 62-57, on Sunday night. It took a wild 17-2 run with just over six minutes left to play, but the Seawolves tacked on their first-ever victory over a ranked opponent and did so in dramatic fashion.

For the most part, the contest seemed like any ordinary Pac-12 versus America East game. In terms of athleticism, SBU was outmatched by a wide margin. Jameel Warney had to work both sides of the ball against the hulking 7-foot, 250-pound Robert Upshaw, who blocked four shots on the night and somehow fell short of his season average. Warney also fell short of his usual double-digit rebounding game and shot just 6-17 from the field.

To make matters worse for Stony Brook, leading scorer Carson Puriefoy could not find the bottom of the net. Tre finished 2-12 from the field, missing his first seven shots, many of which were open looks. Put this together and one would expect a 20-point (or worse) loss. Early on, it looked like that would be the result.

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SBU shot 3-15 to start the game before junior Rayshaun McGrew connected on two straight buckets. McGrew was a lone bright spot for the Seawolves in the early going, collecting seven boards in the first half.

These offensive woes stemmed from both impatience and generally poor shooting. Stony Brook was antsy early on, shooting much earlier in the shot clock than in previous games, resulting in rushed looks, like an early airball from freshman Bryan Sekunda. Although the Seawolves would settle down, the Huskies doubled Warney down low and Stony Brook just could not get their shots to fall. This helped Washington get out in transition, which led to easy points on the fast break.

Stony Brook would dial down the three-point tries as the first half continued, which gave the Huskies fewer long rebounds to work with. Still, SBU did not have the offense to crack Washington’s lead. The margin swayed steadily in the eight to 12 range due to Stony Brook’s tremendous defense. Down nine at the break, the Seawolves went into a second half that looked relatively similar to the first.

The Huskies tried to break open their lead a couple of times with a few consecutive baskets, but the Seawolves would answer. Stony Brook’s defense lost its fire early in the latter half and their offense had still yet to pick up.

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Then, the game wound down to its closing minutes. With 6:39 to play, Upshaw scored to give the Huskies a ten-point advantage. Stony Brook needed to ride one hot hand to get within striking distance and it was sophomore Kameron Mitchell, who not too long ago lost his starting spot, who led the charge.

Mitchell knocked down an open three with 5:41 to go. Warney knocked down one of two free throws moments later and then after a flurry of misses from both sides, and it was Mitchell once again from downtown, his fourth three of the night. Washington now led by only three with just under four minutes to play.

The Huskies got some breathing room with a pair of free throws, but with 2:33 to go, McGrew scored inside to cut the deficit back down to three. A minute later, Warney swung a bullet pass cross-court into the hands of who else but the 1-11 Puriefoy, who knocked down the open three.

In an attempt to take the lead, Washington turned it over into the hands of freshman Roland L’Amour Nyama, who dove for the ball and secured it for the Seawolves. Warney received the ball near the free throw arc from Puriefoy on a pick-and-roll, dribbled ahead and lofted in a floater off the glass with 34 seconds remaining.

With the Seawolves up a deuce, the Huskies tried to respond, but Andrew Andrews missed a jumper with 22 ticks to play. Stony Brook knocked down its game-sealing free throws and, in doing so, took home perhaps the most impressive victory in the history of the program.

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Stony Brook has yet to deliver its fans a trip to the national stage in March, but on one late December night against a top-flight squad, the Seawolves made it known it will not be long now.

David Vertsberger

David also writes for ESPN's Truehoop Network and Hardwood Paroxysm.

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1 comment

  1. I am a huge Husky fan…… was at the game last night……. to say that our athletes are better is an understatement…… just looking at the pregame shoot-around could tell you that….. Stony Brook brought it all……smarts, heart and desire…… they wanted it more…..and CONGRATS to them……… I will be a Seawolves fan from a distance…… Well done and good luck with the rest of the season…..see you in the Dance soon!!!!!

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