Since Feb. 6, redshirt freshman forward Akwasi Yeboah had not scored a single point. His minutes fell, maxing out at 12 in a game. It was clear that he was struggling.
Yeboah turned to his mother for help. Although the pair usually talk everyday, Yeboah had not spoken to her for a week because she left their home country of England for Ghana. But on Saturday morning, Yeboah’s mother gave him advice.
“She just tells me to play hard every time I’m on the court,” Yeboah said. “She’s always giving me Bible quotes and stuff like that to help me spiritually.”
Junior guard U.C. Iroegbu also came to the redshirt freshman’s aid. Iroegbu struggled earlier in the season.
“U.C. actually talked to him,” head coach Jeff Boals said. “He pulled him aside the other night. U.C. had struggled for a couple week period and the biggest thing is, there’s only one person that can you get you out of a funk and that’s that person.”
Yeboah did shed that funk, scoring 19 points on Saturday night, one shy of tying his career-high. Yeboah led all scorers in Stony Brook’s blowout win against Binghamton, 76-55, for the team’s sixth consecutive win. Stony Brook improved to 12-2 in conference play.
The game was an emotional one. It was Senior Night for the Seawolves; guards Lucas Woodhouse and Kameron Mitchell were honored. Mitchell put on a show early in the first half, swiping the ball from sophomore Binghamton guard Timmy Rose and slamming down a two-handed dunk on the other end.
Woodhouse did what he does best: distribute the ball. He had a season-high nine assists on the night and found junior forward Junior Saintel on an alley-oop midway through the first half to give Stony Brook its first double-digit lead of the game, taking a 25-14 advantage.
The fact that the night was also dedicated to retiring former Stony Brook forward and current Texas Legend player Jameel Warney’s jersey also added onto the emotion. The three-time America Player of the Year had his jersey retired at halftime, joining Major League Baseball’s Joe Nathan as just the second Stony Brook athlete to have received the honor.
Stony Brook Director of Athletics Shaun Heilbron, President Samuel L. Stanley and New York State Senator Kenneth P. LaValle presented Warney with the award.
“A lot of people would say, ‘why retire Jameel’s jersey just one year removed?’” Heilbron said, speaking at halfcourt on the microphone. “What I would say is, ‘when you love someone, you don’t wait to tell them.’ Jameel, we love you.”
The team felt Warney’s presence throughout the past weekend. Warney attended practice with his former teammates. The Seawolves used the emotion to their advantage.
“Binghamton beat us last game,” Woodhouse said. “So it was more than Senior Night. We wanted to get them back. We wanted to come out. We played with a lot of emotion and it played to our favor.”
Three-point shooting was a major factor for the Seawolves. Stony Brook shot a hot 41.7 percent from behind the arc. Yeboah and Iroegbu led the three-point barrage for the Seawolves, shooting 3-for-3 and 3-for-6, respectively.
Boals also cited rebounding as a big reason for the blowout victory. In their previous meeting on Jan. 22, the Bearcats outrebounded the Seawolves, 31-27. But on Saturday night, junior forward Roland Nyama led Stony Brook to a 45-33 edge. He had nine rebounds, one shy of tying his season-high.
Stony Brook will travel to UMBC on Wednesday to take on the Retrievers at 7 p.m. The last time the two played, Stony Brook won 83-73. Four Seawolves scored in double-digits and Woodhouse led the way with 23 points.