Stony Brook Men’s Basketball picked up two key victories this week, winning 97-61 against the Molloy College Lions in the team’s home opener at Island Federal Credit Union Arena on Wednesday, Nov. 21 and against Rhode Island on Nov. 24.
Redshirt-junior forward Andrew Garcia led the Seawolves with his first career double-double coming off the bench against Molloy, notching career highs in points with 20 and rebounds with 10 in 22 minutes on the court. Garcia shot perfectly from the field in the first half and ended the game shooting 60 percent from the field, 50 percent from three and 75 percent from the charity stripe. After dealing with serious knee injuries for two and a half years, Garcia talked about his return as well as his performance.
“It feels amazing,” Garcia said following the victory. “It’s been two and a half years, I came in halfway through the season and I played one out-of-conference game. I had this whole year to get focused and get ready. Tonight, having my legs under me, being able to stay in the game as long as I did, playing hard and probably having a career-high just feels good.”
Tying Garcia for the team lead in points and rebounds was starting redshirt-junior forward Akwasi Yeboah. Yeboah notched a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds as well, tying his career-high with his second double-double this season. Yeboah shot 40 percent from the field and a team-high 87 percent from the line.
In addition to the clutch performances by Garcia and Yeboah, freshman guards Jules Moor and Miles Latimer added 10 and 14 points respectively in their first game at the Island Federal Credit Union Arena, and sophomore guard Elijah Olaniyi contributed eight rebounds. Head coach Jeff Boals was pleased with his team’s performance.
“We knew we’d get Molloy’s best shot, I give them a lot of credit, they were averaging 83 points per game coming in, and we thought it’d be a track meet up and down and transition defense was gonna be a really big key for us,” Boals said. “I thought for the most part, we did a really good job doing that.”
Heading into the matchup, the Seawolves were focused on shutting out a potential scoring threat in Molloy junior guard Nick Corbett.
“Corbett, number 13, he is a great player,” Boals said, “He’s averaged 27 points per game, he was hitting NBA threes. I was worried about him coming into the game, so we wanted to make a special emphasis on him. Our goal was to hold him to 18 points or less, and I give our guys a lot of credit for doing that.”
Corbett finished the matchup with 13 points and four assists, as well as four turnovers forced by the Seawolves defense.
Stony Brook struggled with keeping the momentum rolling at Rhode Island as the game opened up. The Rams took an early advantage and pulled away from a back-and-forth contest with a 7-2 run to take the lead by four.
However, the team’s resilient effort, which has been a running theme this year, contributed to the Seawolves’ explosive 16-3 run which began with 8:26 left in the first half. The run gave Stony Brook a 35-30 lead at the end of the first half. Moor started his first game for the Seawolves, accumulating three points, five steals and three rebounds in the matchup.
Stony Brook went into the locker room with an edge offensively, nailing two more 3-pointers than Rhode Island and shooting over 50 percent from the field. Rhode Island shot just 35 percent from the field in the half.
The Seawolves opened the half pushing their lead to nine with just under 14 minutes remaining in regulation. The Rams’ shooting continued to bottle, as the team attempted 10 more 3-pointers and only nailed one. This was a key factor in the team’s defeat, as the Rams finished the matchup shooting just 8 percent from beyond the arc and 35 percent from the field.
Sophomore guard Jordan McKenzie became a key player in the later part of the game. His seven points and two steals in the half helped propel Stony Brook to its fifth victory of the season. McKenzie’s layup with five minutes remaining gave the team a 15-point lead. Rhode Island got the lead down to 67-58 with 33 seconds left, but time ran out on the attempted comeback.
Boals was pleased in his team’s mental toughness and performance following its second victory of the week.
“We knew what we had to do to win a game on the road. Our guys showed a lot of toughness, came in here and had a great game,” Boals said in a press release. “We wanted to win the ‘first two wars’ in the first eight minutes of the game. We knew their pressure was going to be some of the best we’ll see and our guys handled it really well. Same thing in the second half. We had to come out and get to a good start, which we did. Give our guys a lot of credit. We made plays on both ends of the floor and had a lot of guys step up and contribute.”
The team’s next matchup comes against Norfolk State, a team they defeated at the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Tournament on Nov. 17. The game will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 27 at 7 p.m.