The Stony Brook men’s basketball team entered Wednesday evening’s match-up against Shawnee State University searching for a win. Starting 1-5 on the season, including four losses from teams that clinched NCAA tournament berths last season, the Seawolves needed a big performance to pull off a victory.
Scoring 101 points in 40 minutes was a performance head coach Jeff Boals was proud of.
“I was really happy with our effort coming out. Coming into the game, our goal was to compete for 40 minutes and play hard,” Boals said. “I thought we had had a good day of practice leading into it, and I was happy with the effort.”
Five Seawolves scored in double figures, led by senior guard Bryan Sekunda tying his career high with 21 points to lead the Seawolves to a 101-58 victory over the Bears at the Island Federal Credit Union Arena.
This was the first game Stony Brook scored 100 points in since playing the United States Merchant Marine Academy back on Nov. 14, 2015. It was also the first 40-plus point victory since beating DIII Farmingdale State back on Nov. 28, 2015.
Sekunda’s points all came in the first half, but his performance kept Stony Brook in the driver’s seat for the entire game. The senior made six three-pointers, including back-to-back threes nine minutes into the first quarter that caused Shawnee State to call a timeout. Stony Brook led 27-6 at this point in the game.
“It feels great to be in a zone like that because you feel like everything you throw up is going to go in,” Sekunda said. “Whenever guys are finding me like that, it’s the best feeling in the world.”
The Seawolves opened the game on an 11-0 run and never looked back. Freshman guard Jordan McKenzie recorded a steal and a layup within the first 10 seconds of the game. It was obvious that Stony Brook came into the game with energy, and the offense played well because of it.
“With some of the teams that are not like the ones we usually play, it’s important that we get out quick and keep that pace going the entire game,” McKenzie said. “If we let them get going a little bit, it makes it tougher on us for the rest of the game.”
Along with McKenzie’s 16 points which included four three-pointers, several other Seawolves stepped up to contribute to the win. Freshman forward and America East Rookie of the Week Elijah Olaniyi poured in 16 points with three steals. Senior forward Junior Saintel picked up a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, and redshirt-sophomore forward Akwasi Yeboah scored 10 points, adding six points from the free-throw line.
The team as a whole was able to play as one unit on both sides of the ball. On offense, the team shot above 50 percent from the field, three-point range and the free-throw line. They scored 46 points in the paint, 27 points off turnovers and 16 fast break points.
Meanwhile, Stony Brook’s defense stifled Shawnee State throughout the contest. The highest scorer for the Bears was freshman guard Gavin Brown with 13 points. The team held the Bears to 33 percent shooting from the field and forced 28 turnovers.
“I wanted to see the competition part, coming out and playing harder, playing tougher and sharing the basketball,” Boals said. “Sometimes in a game like this, some guys can get carried away. But, I thought we maintained our composure and played the right way for 40 minutes, and I was really happy competing for 40.”
For the first time this season, very member of the team entered the game. Boals reiterated that he wants his younger guys like freshman forward Anthony Ochefu to get as many game reps as possible.
“Those guys work hard, and [Ochefu] is going to be a really good player,” Boals said. “Anytime you can get game experience, it helps you out. The biggest thing I told our guys was to continue to play the right way. Sometimes when you have a big lead like that, you can play sloppy and be careless. But I was happy with those guys’ performance.”
The team will look to close out their four-game homestand with another victory when it takes on Saint Francis Saturday, Dec. 2 at 7 p.m.