By Skyler Gilbert and Jesse Borek
After losing two consecutive games to conference foes New Hampshire and Vermont, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team looked to its stars to lead the team out of the recent skid and revitalize spirits as the season approaches the America East tournament. Jameel Warney and Carson Puriefoy did not disappoint.
The two juniors combined to shoot 77 percent from the field and score 43 combined points as the Seawolves toppled the UMBC Retrievers, 73-61, in convincing fashion Wednesday night in Baltimore, Md. Puriefoy’s 26 points led all scorers in the game, marking the fourth time this season he has scored at least 25.
Puriefoy was attacking the basket all night long, scoring a season-high eight two-point field goals. His persistence driving the lane earned him eight free-throw attempts as well. The seven conversions from the charity stripe brought Puriefoy’s free throw total this season to 99, which is the top mark in the conference.
Warney was a solid presence for Stony Brook on the low block all game long. The reigning Conference Player of the Year buried his first eight shots while playing solid defense. Warney totaled 17 points and eight rebounds in the game.
UMBC’s center Cody Joyce scored a game-high 24 points for the Retrievers, but Warney made him work for them. Joyce attempted 20 shots and only made seven, which was less than ideal efficiency for an upset-hungry UMBC squad.
The Retrievers kept the game competitive for much of the evening, taking a 35-31 lead early in the second-half. From there, Stony Brook went on a 17-7 run, sensitizing UMBC to its own inferiority in the match-up. Stony Brook’s second-half surge was highlighted by a fast-break dunk by Warney with 18:37 remaining, which regained the lead for the team in red and white.
Freshman Tyrell Sturdivant had a three-point play minutes later that deflated the Retriever Activities Center crowd of whatever life it still had. Junior Rayshaun McGrew was a force on the glass, leading the Seawolves with 12 boards.
As a team, Stony Brook out-rebounded UMBC 41-20 in the game.
On Valentine’s Day, love was in the air for the Seawolves, as they cruised to an 80-52 victory over the Maine Black Bears. Leading the way was redshirt freshman Roland Nyama who had a career-high 24 points, including six made three-pointers to lead the Seawolves in the onslaught.
“I’m just trying to have fun on the court and do what I love,” Nyama said after his performance.
The breakout game comes a bit unexpectedly, as Nyama had just seven points combined in his last three contests prior to the outburst. In fact, in the last calendar month, Nyama made all of his seven three-point shots. He would make six alone against Maine.
It was seemingly just another day at the office for Warney, who had his 17th double-double of the season, the most in the country, racking up 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Though the Black Bears did a solid job of containing him in the first half to just three points and one made field goal, the big man could not be held down for long, breaking out in the second half as the Seawolves pulled away.
The trend of dominating on the glass would be felt by the entirety of the Seawolves roster. It was not only Nyama who had a career afternoon, but McGrew as well. His 15 rebounds, seven of which came on the offensive glass, were a career-high.
He too would finish with a double-double, adding 10 points of his own. It nearly goes without saying that Head Coach Steve Pikiell was pleased with his team’s efforts.
“I particularly liked how we shared the game…A good win with contributions from a number of players.” he said.
Coming into the contest, the Seawolves knew they would have a massive advantage on the glass, but they would go on to lambast the undersized Black Bears, 52-28, on the boards.
Stony Brook would grab an astounding 20 offensive rebounds, which was nearly as many defensive rebounds as Maine would have (25).
The homecoming for Maine’s Kevin Little, a Wyandanch, N.Y. product, did not go as well as he had hoped. Averaging 20 points per game over his last five contests, Little would pour in just seven on 2-for-12, as the game was winding down and well out of reach.
SBU now has an overall record of 17-10 this season, and is 8-4 in America East play.
Next up for the Seawolves is a collision with the Albany Great Danes on Tuesday night at SEFCU Arena at 7 p.m.