Not even the pounding snowfall outside could stop Seawolves freshman Roland Nyama from heating up on Saturday night. Nyama scored 22 points on 6-of-7 shooting from deep to propel Stony Brook to a 64-52 victory at home over Binghamton.
“It was a good week. 2-0, we beat the number one team in our conference and we beat a good Binghamton team,” Jameel Warney, who scored 11 points and collected eight boards, said following the win. “We’re just happy we got better over this week.”
Coming off a major win at Albany, Stony Brook needed a win against the Bearcats to maintain its standing as the third seed. The Seawolves took an early 9-2 lead out of the gate behind an opening-possession three from who else but Nyama and three turnovers in a little over four minutes from Binghamton.
The Bearcats opened play in a zone, but would switch throughout the night, sometimes playing man, pressing and trapping full-court in different sequences to throw Stony Brook off.
“They did a great job against Vermont doing that stuff,” Head Coach Steve Pikiell said. “When you do that kind of defense, you give up a lot of things and you get some things, too. They’re second in the league in steals, but then they give up open jumpshots, lay-ups and fouls. Have to take advantage of what they’re doing. I thought [Carson Puriefoy] did a real good job of handling a lot of different looks and still moving the ball where it needs to be moved.”
Puriefoy was able to get a slew of open court opportunities by slicing through the backcourt pressure, scoring a team-high 10 points in the opening half.
However, this is not to say Stony Brook excelled on the offensive end in the first 20 minutes. After making four of their first five shots, the Seawolves went into a drought in the wake of Binghamton’s stifling defense.
Having trouble crossing midcourt, SBU shot just 3-14 in an eight-minute stretch following its strong start. Warney could only get involved when Binghamton went to strictly man, but even during the few times that occurred he was promptly double- and triple-teamed.
The Bearcats failed to take control with turnovers killing their offensive possessions. The Seawolves adjusted to Binghamton’s defense, sparking a 12-4 run in the final minutes of the first half to hold a five-point advantage at the break.
The second half quickly turned into the Nyama show, as the freshman poured in back-to-back-to-back threes in the opening three minutes of the period.
“I would love to say I could shoot last year,” Nyama said. “It was something I really worked on during my redshirt year.”
Following this 11-0 run capped off by a Deshaun Thrower score, Pikiell sat Nyama down and Binghamton responded with a 10-2 run of its own.
However, Nyama’s energy once again sparked a massive 19-5 run to put the Seawolves in the driver’s seat for good.
“I think we have some good shooters and Roland when he gets it going he’s as good as any of them,” Pikiell said. “When Jameel gets double-teamed and someone’s going to be open we made the extra pass today, he was the beneficiary of it. I loved his energy, I thought his defense more importantly was really good. Everyone sees the shots go in but the guys he was guarding have been averaging 15, 16 points a game and he did a real good job of keeping guys in front of him and getting some active rebounds.“
Nyama came away with a steal and a slam, as well as another couple of threes.
“Thing is, I really don’t realize it until my teammates keep feeding me the ball. We had 16 assists today and all my makes came off assists. It’s just great to know that my teammates believe in me and keep giving me the ball,” Nyama said. “At the end of the day if I have 20 plus or a good game, it’s really because my teammates make my job a lot easier.” Hartford’s loss on Friday night clinched a postseason home game for the Seawolves, who now look to close out their regular season with UMass-Lowell and Hartford ahead on the schedule.
“We can’t drop these next two games,” Warney said of the challenge ahead. “It doesn’t matter if we have a home game if we’re playing bad basketball to get there.”