After winning two of its previous three games, Stony Brook Men’s Basketball entered Tuesday night’s matchup against Lehigh at Island Federal Credit Union Arena with momentum.
A close game for the first 28 minutes of regulation shifted when Lehigh senior forward Tim Kempton, the two-time reigning Patriot League Player of the Year, was charged with his fourth foul.
“Kempton’s huge. He’s like a Sequoia out there,” Stony Brook head coach Jeff Boals said. “We definitely wanted to capitalize when he was out and I thought that was a big key to the game.”
With the Lehigh’s leading scorer on the bench, senior guard Kam Mitchell connected on a three-point look near the right elbow to give his team a four-point lead. Junior forward Tyrell Sturdivant, who was 0-for-3 from the field against Kempton in the first half, followed suit with two layups against the Mountain Hawks backup center.
Following the 8-0 run, the Seawolves never gave up the lead, going on to win, 62-57. Lehigh, who had 19 turnovers, became the lowest-scoring Stony Brook opponent this season. The Seawolves improved their overall record to 3-5.
Redshirt freshman forward Akwasi Yeboah led Stony Brook with 16 points, including nine second half points. His 16 points were the most he has scored in a single game this season. The freshman continues to prove he not only is an asset for his team in the future, but in the present.
“I knew I had to be aggressive to help my team win,” Yeboah said. “I have confidence in my game, in my shot, and I work hard for it.”
The 8-0 run with Kempton on the bench ended up being the turning point in the game. However, he returned to the court with 8:34 seconds remaining in regulation to give his team the offensive jolt they desperately needed. In less than three minutes after he reentered the game, Kempton scored eight points on two three-point shots and a layup to bring his team within three.
Stony Brook once again began to pull away, but the Patriot League preseason favorites showed resilience. Trailing the Seawolves by 11 with 1:32 left to play, junior guard Kahron Ross landed a three-point shot to kick off a 9-1 Mountain Hawk run. Lehigh had one chance to tie with five seconds remaining in the game, but sophomore guard Kyle Leufroy missed a three-point attempt and the Seawolves claimed victory.
Stony Brook did not make a field goal in the last 6:40 of the game, but it did not matter as long as senior guard Lucas Woodhouse was hitting his free throws — and he was.
“Playing seven games in the last 16 days, I thought we were a little fatigued,” Boals said. “Lucas played 34 minutes in each of the last three games, so I know he was tired. For him to step up and go 12-for-12 from the line, it tells us a little bit about who he is.”
The 12-for-12 shooting day at the line followed an 8-for-8 performance by Woodhouse in Saturday’s win over Northeastern. The senior is shooting .971 percent from the free throw line this season, which leads the America East.
“We have a big one coming up, and we want to keep it going,” Woodhouse said, referring to the team’s matchup against Rutgers, coached by Steve Pikiell, next week. Pikiell coached the Stony Brook men’s basketball team for 11 seasons, including last year’s NCAA Tournament team, before moving on to coach Rutgers.
“It’s going to be very emotional because Pikiell is coming back and everyone wants to beat them,” Yeboah said, who redshirted under Pikiell last season.
It will be the former coach’s first game at Island Federal Credit Union Arena since the confetti fell from the rafters after winning the first America East Championship in school history last season. Saturday’s game will tip off at 7 p.m..