Maine’s hyperactive defense and uptempo offense that upset Albany two weeks ago failed to surprise the Stony Brook Men’s Basketball team on Monday night. The Seawolves led wire-to-wire in an 81-54 victory over the Black Bears, their 12th consecutive win.
Stony Brook used a 23-7 run late in the first half to take a 14-point lead at halftime, which the Seawolves built on with a 12-0 run early in the second half. The Seawolves held the Black Bears to 33.3 percent shooting on the night and assisted on 22 of their 31 field goals.
“It was a dangerous game for us, but I liked how our mindset was,” head coach Steve Pikiell said. “I thought with one day to prepare we did a pretty good job.”
Maine tried to double-team senior forward Jameel Warney, but his passing ability opened up good opportunities for his teammates. Warney swung the ball to the open man with cross-court bounce passes and no-lookers with one hand, finishing with five assists and many passes that led to more. That does not even include his 12 points and 12 rebounds.
“When they double team, there’s somebody open and he does a great job of finding that person,” Pikiell said. “He does a real good job of seeing the floor, he prefers to pass anyways, so I think it’s a great trait that he has. Sometimes I want him to be a little more unselfish and score.”
Stony Brook’s ability to slip the pick-and-roll also created offense. The Seawolves’ forwards adjusted to the pressure that the Black Bears applied on screens, slipping toward the rim instead of fully committing to the pick. A quick pass to them resulted in a four-on-three advantage for Stony Brook in the halfcourt.
“Since I’ve been here we’ve been practicing our slips daily over my four years here,” Warney said. “Just something that the big man coach, coach [Jay Young] installed… slip when you see ball screen coverage and just be a great passer and play under control.”
Stony Brook took advantage, shooting 10-for-14 on 3-pointers, five of which belonged to senior guard Carson Puriefoy, who finished with a game-high 23 points.
“I think I always try to be aggressive,” Puriefoy said. “I think that helps my team, whether it is to score, get in the lane and kick, try and pick and choose my spots. And today there was a lot of open opportunities. My teammates did a great job getting me open shots.”
Senior forward Rayshaun McGrew finished with 14 points and seven rebounds on 7-for-9 shooting. Sophomore guard Bryan Sekunda did not play due to a right ankle sprain, and his timetable is uncertain according to Pikiell. Starting in his place was junior guard Lucas Woodhouse, who finished with 12 points and seven assists.
Stony Brook got off to an 11-2 run out of the gates behind two early Warney assists. The Black Bears, who play at the third-highest pace in the nation per basketball statistics website kenpom.com, responded with a 16-7 run to tie the game at 18, pushing the tempo and forcing the Seawolves to turn the ball over.
“We felt like we could score a lot of points this game, but we also had to defend because Maine’s a high-scoring team, so we didn’t want to just make it a pick-up game,” Warney said. “The tempo went out of control for the first few minutes.”
Pikiell’s squad would settle down and go on a 23-7 run, including eight straight made field goals, stymying Maine’s offense and grabbing a 41-27 at halftime. The Black Bears shot just 34 percent from the field in the first half, while the Seawolves connected on 38 percent of their shots. Stony Brook assisted on 12 of its 17 field goals and went 4-for-5 from three-point land. Puriefoy set the tone with 13 first-half points with three 3-pointers.
Stony Brook set a new Division I program record with its 12th win in a row. The Seawolves remain undefeated at home and in conference play as they travel to Vermont to play the Catamounts on Saturday at 2 p.m..
“I think as a team we’re all locked in,” Puriefoy said. “This winning streak shows that.”