The Stony Brook Men’s Basketball team extended its nation-leading winning streak to 13 as the team pulled away late to defeat Vermont, 72-61, in Patrick Gymnasium.
Tied at 33 apiece going into the second half, both the Catamounts and Seawolves looked to gain momentum to carry them through the final 20 minutes. Vermont had caused Stony Brook to turn the ball over four times within the first five minutes of the second half, not allowing the Seawolves to get in a rhythm. But the Catamounts struggled to capitalize on the scoring opportunities their defense had created.
Instead of panicking, head coach Steve Pikiell’s squad put the ball into the hands of its best player, senior forward Jameel Warney.
Warney was close to unstoppable in the paint. He led the Seawolves with 23 points, including a huge alley-oop from junior guard Lucas Woodhouse in the second half. His play on the block was too much for Vermont senior forward Ethan O’Day to handle as Warney’s array of post moves allowed him to score efficiently and quickly.
Warney also went 5-for-6 from the free throw line, including three makes in the final seven minutes to help seal the deal.
The two-time reigning America East Player of the Year was just as dominant in the paint defensively as he was offensively. Warney proved why he is the America East’s leader in blocked shots, as he stuffed Vermont four times, all of which came in the first half. He also swiped the ball twice in the contest.
Warney’s prowess on the glass showed as well, as the New Jersey-native collected 10 rebounds, including a game-high three offensive boards.
Also coming up big for the Seawolves was junior guard Ahmad Walker. Walker earned his fifth double-double of the season, scoring 16 points while matching Warney’s 10 rebounds.
Walker was simply everywhere for the Seawolves. The slashing guard got to the free throw line eight times and scored on six of those attempts. Both he and senior forward Rayshaun McGrew attacked Vermont’s leading scorer, Trae Bell-Haynes, and drew five fouls on the sophomore guard.
Defensively, Walker played the passing lanes well, as he stole the ball a game-high three times.
It was a tale of two halves for Stony Brook, though. The Catamounts jumped to an early 5-0 lead and pushed the Seawolves to a 22-15 deficit. However, Stony Brook fought back as it looked to get the ball into the paint to either get fouled or attempt a shot closer to the basket.
In the second half, the Seawolves continued their attack in the paint, where they scored a total of 36 points on the day. Warney took control in the half, scoring 15 of his points.
Stony Brook’s physical defense made it difficult for Vermont to establish an offensive rhythm. The Catamounts shot just 37.7 percent from the field.
While the Seawolves’ defense did stop Vermont from scoring early on, it was too physical at times. Stony Brook committed five fouls within the first eight minutes of the game and ended up finishing the half with ten. However, the team adjusted at halftime and only committed six fouls to finish the day.
Stony Brook returns to Island Federal Credit Union Arena as the team takes on Binghamton on Wednesday at 7 p.m.. The Seawolves defeated the Bearcats 62-52 on the road over winter break.
Correction: Feb. 1, 2016
A previous version of this story gave David Vertsberger and Kunal Kohli a combined byline. The story was written solely by Kunal Kohli.