It was a warm homecoming for junior guard Ahmad Walker in his first game back as a Seawolf after transferring to Barton Community College. Walker attempted 11 free throws en route to 17 points in a 103-32 win for Stony Brook Men’s Basketball over Division III United States Merchant Marine Academy.
“It was great to be back,” Walker said. “Environment was great. Had great teammates. My teammates had allowed me to be aggressive, had a lot of things in transition, getting the ball up ahead.”
The Mariners missed 12 of their first 13 shot attempts as the Seawolves jumped out to a 28-5 lead and never looked back. Stony Brook was up 57-14 at halftime and finished the game with 12 made threes and six players in double-digit scoring.
Walker made an instant impact, starting alongside junior guard Lucas Woodhouse, who made his Seawolves debut. Woodhouse finished with 10 points and three assists in his first game with Stony Brook after sitting out last season following his transfer from Longwood University.
“I think I learned a lot last year, sitting out,” Woodhouse said. “I learned the game from a different point of view. I definitely had some nerves going into the game tonight, but once I got out there they pretty much went away.”
Faces from last year’s team also enjoyed strong season openers. Senior forward Jameel Warney scored 16 points, collected 14 rebounds and blocked two shots in 22 minutes. Senior guard Carson Puriefoy led the way with 19 points of his own on 4-8 shooting from deep. Warney was taken out of the game at the 13:19 mark of the second half, Puriefoy at 11:54.
Pikiell took advantage of the early-season blowout by giving his bench unit extended minutes and experimenting with new lineups. Junior guard Kameron Mitchell, sophomore center Jakub Petras and sophomore guard Bryan Sekunda each played over 16 minutes.
“It’s nice tonight to play everybody and play different combinations and have guys build a little bit of confidence and chemistry together and that’s what these games are good for,” Seawolves head coach Steve Pikiell said. “Minutes are going to be a little tougher this year to come by and different games we’ll use different guys.”
Redshirt sophomore Roland Nyama spent his playing time at the power forward position for the first time in his young career and finished with 12 points and nine boards.
“We got a lot more guys so we’re trying to figure out playing time for some different guys,” Pikiell said. “When [Rayshaun McGrew] comes back, Ray plays 28 minutes a game, so Roland probably won’t play as much at the four. But we can move him around, he’s versatile, he’s bigger now, he’s able to play that spot. Gives us a stretch four, which I kind of like at times.”
Rayshaun McGrew was not with the team Saturday night, giving sophomore forward Tyrell Sturdivant the start. The forward finished with seven points and 13 rebounds.
This was the second loss in as many seasons at Stony Brook for USMMA head coach and Seawolves alumnus Steve Hayn, who faced off against a former colleague of his. He and Pikiell were both assistant coaches at Central Connecticut State for three years.
“Steve Hayn is a former player, great player and he’s a really good coach,” Pikiell said. “His team will always be well-coached and I thought we kind of just handled them tonight, because we’re just better.”
Stony Brook now heads on a three-game road trip, the first of which taking place on Thursday, Nov. 19 at Vanderbilt.
“We know now we’re up against SEC referees, great SEC team on the road, then Western Kentucky, very very good team and then Loyola too,” Pikiell said. “We have a three-game stretch here where we have to really really be good.”