By Skyler Gilbert and Joe Galotti
The Lions can never seem to beat the Packers at Lambeau Field, Roger Federer can never seem to beat Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros and the Seawolves can never seem to beat the Catamounts at Patrick Gymnasium.
Vermont came out victorious against the visiting Stony Brook men’s basketball team 71-57 on Jan. 10 in Burlington, marking the thirteenth time in fourteen years that the Seawolves fell short at their conference rival’s home gym.
“You’ve got to deserve to win when you come up here [to Burlington],” Head Coach Steve Pikiell said following the loss. “It’s a tough place to play, they’re very good, and we didn’t play well enough to deserve to win the basketball game.”
The Seawolves battled throughout and were able to cut the deficit to five points with 4:09 left in the second half after a pair of Jameel Warney hook shots, but Stony Brook could not get a defensive stop when it mattered most, and Vermont pulled away late.
Warney had 26 points, tying a season-high, along with ten rebounds. The junior center leads the nation with fourteen double-doubles and 12.2 rebounds per game.
The Seawolves offense struggled on their entry passes to Warney early in the game, as UVM’s big men fronted him in the post, holding him to six first-half points.
After some halftime adjustments, the ever-resilient Warney exploded for 20 points in the second half alone—the most he’s had in a single half in his collegiate career. The crowd of green in the bleachers was baffled as Warney continuously made power post moves and acrobatic lay-ups, paying respect to the reigning conference player of the year.
At the other end of the court, Vermont’s lanky and athletic forwards stretched the floor and challenged the interior defense of the Seawolves, exploiting matchup advantages. Using their quickness and shooting ability, Ethan O’Day and Kurt Steidl haunted Stony Brook all game long, scoring sixteen and thirteen points, respectively.
During the second half it, seemed as if Vermont would never miss. The defenders in red were left watching as the Catamounts made floater after floater, three after three. Overall, Vermont had an effective field goal percentage of 59.6 percent in the game, the worst defensive performance of the season for the Seawolves in that regard.
“Their bigs are always mobile and they can shoot the ball. O’Day had a great game for them,” Pikiell noted. “It’s a tough matchup for any players, but especially conventional big guys like we tend to have.”
Stony Brook, with a reputation for being one of the nation’s best at crashing the glass, was out-rebounded by Vermont, 30-26. It was only the third time this season the Seawolves failed to secure more rebounds than their opponent.
Offense, with the exception of Warney, was difficult to come by for the Seawolves. Not one of the Stony Brook guards had more than six points on Saturday. Carson Puriefoy shot just 2-of-12 from the field in the contest.
Puriefoy has never been one to shy from taking shots and despite his shooting slump, Pikiell wants him to keep the same mentality.
“[Carson’s] just in one of those bad spells here,” Pikiell said after the loss. “Players go through this at times and we need to get him out of it. That’s the most important thing. He needs to continue to shoot for us. He’s been good throughout his career and I expect him to bounce back soon, and hopefully that’ll come in our next game.”
While Patrick Gym has been a house of horrors for the Seawolves in recent years, the team has had nothing but success playing at Island Federal Credit Union Arena.
Stony Brook continued its winning ways at the new arena on Wednesday, Jan. 14, defeating UMBC 64-54 and improving its record at home to 8-0.
Puriefoy led the way for the Seawolves against the Retrievers, and showed signs that his recent slump may soon be coming to an end. The junior point guard scored a team-high 15 points, shot 5-of-10 from the field and 2-of-2 from behind the arc.
Stony Brook got offensive contributions up and down the lineup in the contest. Roland Nyama finished with 12 points and Warney, Rayshaun McGrew and Kameron Mitchell finished with nine points apiece.
Outside shooting made the difference in the game for the Seawolves, as the team nailed seven three-pointers against UMBC.
Warney, who received a great deal of defensive attention down low from the Retrievers defenders, was thrust into the position of distributor. His ability to pass out of double teams and find open shooters resulted in him finishing with a career-high eight assists on the night.
The game was tightly contested most of the way, with Stony Brook holding only a 50-49 lead, with just under five minutes to play. But, seven unanswered points from Warney helped his team expand their lead to eight and put SBU in full control.
After the victory over UMBC, the Seawolves had an overall record of 11-7 and a 2-1 record in America East conference play.