Junior forward Tyrell Sturdivant drives to the basket against Northeastern Dec. 3 at Island Federal Credit Union Arena. ERIC SCHMID/THE STATESMAN
Junior forward Tyrell Sturdivant drives to the basket against Northeastern on Dec. 3, 2016 at Island Federal Credit Union Arena. ERIC SCHMID/THE STATESMAN

During the offseason, Stony Brook Men’s Basketball head coach Jeff Boals stressed that success from the backcourt would be vital for the upcoming season.

But it was a frontcourt player’s success that proved to be vital in Monday afternoon’s 86-75 win against UMass Lowell: junior forward Tyrell Sturdivant. The Seawolves are now 4-0 in America East play and are one of two teams undefeated in the conference.

The Pennsylvania native took advantage of the River Hawks’ lack of length and dominated in the first half. All senior guard Lucas Woodhouse had to do was wait for the pick from Sturdivant, pass it to him as he rolled into the paint and watch as Sturdivant bodied his way to the hoop for 16 of his career-high 28 points.

With a 17-point lead 13 minutes into the first half, it looked like the Seawolves could do no wrong. Sturdivant had not missed a single shot, Stony Brook owned the paint and the team had made five consecutive three-pointers. It was like the team was at practice.

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That was until the River Hawks staged a comeback. In seven minutes the Seawolves went from offensive beasts to only scoring eight points while the River Hawks went on an 18-point barrage. Stony Brook’s lead was cut to nine going into halftime after UMass Lowell guard Ryan Jones sunk a three-pointer with four seconds left on the clock.

The Seawolves shot 1-for-6 from the field to open the second half as the River Hawks cut the lead to one, the closest they had gotten to the lead since their 4-3 lead in the first minutes of the game. Woodhouse attacked the basket and scored a layup to stop UMass Lowell’s momentum. It was the start of an 11-2 run that gave Stony Brook its momentum back.

However, the River Hawks answered with a 10-2 run to make it a one possession game with fewer than six minutes left on the clock. In order to keep the lead, the Seawolves took advantage of the River Hawks team fouls and tried to get to the foul line as much as possible. In the last six minutes, Stony Brook went 7-for-10 from the charity stripe.

Not only was the offense successful, but the defense was able to contain UMass Lowell forward Jahad Thomas, who had a triple-double in the team’s last game against Hartford. While Thomas had 18 points and 15 rebounds, extending his double-double streak to four games, Stony Brook forced him to make costly mistakes. He shot 1-for-3 in the closing minutes and fouled Mitchell as he grabbed a defensive rebound and which sent him to the free throw line.

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Stony Brook’s defense did little to stop forward Tyler Livingston, who led UMass Lowell with 25 points. Only two other River Hawks scored in double digits. The rest of the team scored three points or less each.

Sturdivant was Stony Brook’s top scorer, followed by Woodhouse who had 17 points and led the team with seven assists on the afternoon. Redshirt junior forward Roland Nyama was the only other Seawolf in double digits, scoring 10 points.

Stony Brook’s fourth straight win ends a two-game road trip where the team blew out Maine.

The Seawolves defeated the Black Bears 74-54, the team’s largest win of the season. It was Stony Brook’s second straight game having a 20 plus point run to close out the game.

In the first half, both teams looked evenly matched with neither team jumping out to much of a lead. Sturdivant scored 12 of his 16 points in the half, but Maine maintained a steady one-possession lead, leading 31-28.

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However, in the second half, Mitchell drained a shot from beyond the arc to kick-start a 23-point run. The bleeding stopped with four minutes left on the clock, but at that point, it was too little too late for Maine.

Stony Brook will return to Island Federal Credit Union Arena to take on Hartford on Jan. 19.

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