Redshirt-sophomore forward Akwasi Yeboah took charge of the Stony Brook Men’s Basketball offense in the team’s game Thursday against Columbia, scoring a career-high 30 points as the Seawolves defeated the Lions 76-66.
Yeboah, who nearly tied his season high with 17 points in the first half alone, became the first Seawolves player to score 30 or more points in a game since Jameel Warney put up 43 points in the 2016 America East title game against Vermont.
The Seawolves needed all of Yeboah’s scoring, as the Lions held a 10-point lead at halftime. The team came out of halftime with newfound energy, going on an 8-0 scoring run to open the half, and taking its first lead of the game at 46-45 with just under 15 minutes left in the second half. The urgent play caught the attention of head coach Jeff Boals.
“I was really proud of our guys coming out and responding in the second half,” Boals said in a press release. “I thought in the first half we played a little selfish, made some unforced errors and allowed them to be the aggressors. Thankfully our guys came out in the second half and responded like I thought they would, and I’m really proud of their effort.”
The Lions’ leading scorer, sophomore guard Mike Smith, earned 18 points but struggled with his efficiency. Smith shot 27 percent from the field, and only shot 10 percent from inside the three-point line. Smith wasn’t the only Lion to struggle to make his shot, as the Seawolves held their opponents to 37 percent shooting overall.
The comeback capped off a much needed bounce-back victory for Stony Brook. The team played a pair of nail biters against Saint Francis on Saturday, where they won 85-83, and LIU Brooklyn on Monday, where they lost 75-71. Stony Brook improved to 4-6 this year, and split decisions on a short two-game road trip.
The Seawolves made a notable change prior to the game, inserting junior guard Jaron Cornish and senior guard Bryan Sekunda into the starting lineup in place of senior guard UC Iroegbu and freshman guard Jordan McKenzie. Cornish has posted double-digit scoring totals in each of his last three games, while Sekunda has shot 66 percent from beyond the arc over that same stretch.
Cornish continued to play effectively in his first start, shooting 55 percent from the field and scoring 11 points in 22 minutes. Sekunda, however, had a rough night, missing all four of the shots he took. However, Sekunda did contribute four rebounds and two assists in 31 minutes.
Stony Brook’s free throw shooting in this game showed a large improvement from their season trend. The team shot 75 percent from the charity stripe, up from their season average of 64 percent. In particular, this performance blows away their 53 percent free throw shooting from the LIU Brooklyn match.
One of the reasons for this turnaround is senior forward Tyrell Sturdivant. Sturdivant has struggled opening the season with free throws, shooting just 43 percent entering the match against Columbia. He bounced back on Thursday, shooting 70 percent from the line and sinking the final five Stony Brook points via free throw to ice the game.
Stony Brook will return home for a matchup against rival Hofstra on Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. The Seawolves have an opportunity to exact revenge for a tough loss to Hofstra last time around, a 96-58 blowout last year on Dec 13.