Stony Brook Men’s Basketball found itself in a familiar position as it had all season, down by 10 points just four minutes into the second half. The team entered the matchup against New Hampshire on Sunday 3-8 through the season when trailing at the half.
This time the result was different.
The Seawolves made a late stride for the remainder of the game, with an offensive charge led by senior guard UC Iroegbu. The six-footer scored nine of his 17 points while Stony Brook was trailing by 10 and eventually helped the team to a 72-63 victory.
“We had two great days of practice,” Iroegbu said. “We were battling and competing, and that carried over to the game. We have had a lot of good halves throughput the year but we knew we had to compete for a full 40 [minutes].”
Iroegbu added three assists and rebounds to the contest. He wasn’t the only strong senior contributor however, as forwards Junior Saintel and Tyrell Sturdivant played a big role in the Seawolves’ victory.
Sturdivant tallied four points, three rebounds and steals along with two assists. Although his stat sheet may not stand out, his contribution to the team included drawing four offensive fouls against the Wildcats, providing opportunities for the Seawolves.
“Each and every game is important,” Sturdivant said. “We knew what this game meant to us and that’s why we came out with a little more urgency. We just want to be playing good and get a good rhythm going into March.”
Saintel added 12 points along with a team-high eight rebounds in the matchup. His defensive presence was a big factor for the Seawolves, as the 6-foot-7-inch forward accounted for two blocks and a steal, both coming in the first half.
Stony Brook’s bench played a critical role in the team’s victory, contributing for 29 points, 17 coming in the second half. In the past three games, the Seawolves’ bench has accumulated for 83 total points.
Senior guard Bryan Sekunda subbed into the game with 7:15 remaining in the second half. His presence was felt immediately, as he nailed a three-pointer from the top of the key one minute later to tie the game at 54 with six minutes left. This gave Stony Brook a momentum swing, as the team went on a 12-2 run and didn’t trail for the remainder of the matchup.
“That was big time, we needed that,” Iroegbu said. “We pride ourselves on how deep our bench is and to have [Sekunda] come in and make plays like that, I think we could play with anyone.”
New Hampshire collapsed on both ends of the floor in the second half. The Wildcats committed 14 turnovers, while the Seawolves defense stepped up and stole the ball eight times. Head coach Jeff Boals gave credit to the Seawolves’ ability to hold the Wildcats to one three-pointer in the second half compared to their six in the first.
The Wildcats shot just 14 percent from beyond the arc, missing a total of six opportunities. The team’s overall field goal percentage went down 10 percent from the first half, as the team completed 10 of its 25 attempted shots.
Both teams were equal in the rebounding margin, tallying 33 rebounds, 24 being defensive and nine offensive. The Seawolves gained the upper hand in second-chance opportunities, scoring 10 points.
Junior guard Jaron Cornish was not suited up in today’s game, with freshman point guard Jordan McKenzie filling his position at starting point guard. Boals said that Cornish had tweaked his ankle in the matchup against Binghamton and didn’t practice.
McKenzie started the game off strong, scoring six points off two jumpers in the first seven minutes. He finished the matchup with eight points and four rebounds along with a steal and an assist.
“[McKenzie] is playing with a lot of confidence right now,” Boals said. “There was a stretch where he didn’t play for four/ five games but he still continued to come in and work hard with a good attitude. He got another opportunity today and he made the most of it.”
After giving New Hampshire its third consecutive loss, Stony Brook now ties the Wildcats for fifth place in the America East with an 11-17 overall record and a 6-8 conference record with just two regular season games remaining. The Seawolves are in action next at the UMBC Event Arena against UMBC on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 7 p.m.