Both Stony Brook Basketball programs—head coach Steve Pikiell’s men’s team and Caroline McCombs’ women’s team—have hit the ground running into the start of America East Conference play, combining for a perfect 13-0 record over the last month and with each winning a pair of games over Binghamton and UMass Lowell.
The conference campaign began on Wednesday in Vestal, New York for the men’s basketball team. The Seawolves visited Binghamton in a rematch of an America East tournament quarterfinal game last spring.
While the Seawolves entered the game seemingly primed for a resounding victory over their SUNY foes—the Bearcats accrued a record of just 3-10 in their nonconference slate—the matchup turned out to be a closely contested affair. Binghamton did not go away easily against Stony Brook, the favorite of the America East preseason coaches’ poll, and the team led the game several times, including as late as the 9:14 mark in the second half.
Despite an underwhelming performance for much of the evening, Stony Brook prevailed 62-52. The Seawolves were led by double-doubles from senior forwards Jameel Warney and Rayshaun McGrew, the latter of whom tied his season best with a game-high 18 points.
Pikiell’s defense stood tall in the matchup, holding the Bearcats’ leading scorer, sophomore forward Willie Rodriguez, to just 3-for-11 shooting from the field and eight points. Stony Brook was fast to close out on outside shots, as Binghamton made only 17 percent of its three-point attempts.
Offense was a different story for the Seawolves. Binghamton used a 2-3 zone to deny Stony Brook open looks for much of the evening, limiting the team to 41.1 percent shooting from the field—well below its season average of 46.4 percent.
On Saturday, however, the offense clicked on all cylinders, as Stony Brook blew the doors off the game early against UMass Lowell, winning 86-59 in its home conference-opener.
The River Hawks made it clear early in the game that they would not allow Warney to beat them. The two-time America East Player of the Year was fronted and double-teamed throughout the game, as the River Hawks forced his teammates to carry the offense.
The rest of the lineup stepped up as seven Stony Brook players had at least seven points. Senior guard Carson Puriefoy had 18 points and a career-high eight assists. Puriefoy and junior guard Lucas Woodhouse each buried three 3-pointers, part of a 56 percent team-wide shooting barrage from beyond the arc for the team in the game.
The women’s basketball team was also able to open its conference play with a 2-0 record, although it did not come as easily as it did for the men.
Despite an injury to one of its star players and a 16-point deficit at home against Binghamton on Wednesday, Stony Brook was able to rise above the adversity and come back to win 64-58 to start America East play on a positive note.
The catalyst of the Seawolves’ late-game surge? Freshman guard Davion Wingate.
Filling in for junior Kori Bayne-Walker, who exited early in the first quarter with an apparent lower-body injury, Wingate struggled early in the contest. By the time Binghamton extended its lead to 42-26 in the third quarter—the Bearcats’ largest advantage of the game—Wingate had scored only two points.
From there, the Atlanta-native caught fire. In the final 17 minutes of the game, Wingate outscored the Bearcats on her own, 17-16, as she made five of her final six field goals, including two 3-pointers.
Senior forward Brittany Snow anchored a Stony Brook defense that held Binghamton to seven fourth-quarter points and made back-to-back layups in the final two minutes to give her team a three-point lead. Snow had 20 points to lead all Seawolves, as she and Wingate led the team to a thrilling home victory.
Three days later, the Seawolves followed up its win with a road victory, 64-50 in Lowell, Massachusetts over the River Hawks.
Stony Brook started slowly again in the Bay State as UMass Lowell led 13-4 after the first quarter as the Seawolves opened the game shooting 16.7 percent with four turnovers early on.
After scoring a mere four points in the first quarter, the team’s lowest scoring quarter of the season, Stony Brook scored 25 points in the second, tying the squad’s second-highest scoring quarter of its season. Snow and redshirt sophomore forward Elizabeth Manner each chipped in eight points in the frame, as the Seawolves stormed back to take a 29-26 lead into the locker room at halftime.
In the second half, Wingate again excelled late in a game. The freshman scored 11 points in the second half, slicing through the River Hawks’ defense for multiple acrobatic layups.
The Stony Brook defense elevated its game as well, holding UMass Lowell to just 37.9 percent shooting from the field. During the Seawolves’ six-game winning streak, they have limited opponents to an average of 54.8 points per game.