Locked in a neck-and-neck battle against the Manhattan Jaspers on Wednesday, Dec. 5, Stony Brook Men’s Basketball redshirt-junior forward Akwasi Yeboah proved why he was named the conference Player of the Week for three consecutive weeks. Yeboah countered the Jaspers’ physical full-court press defense by turning in a season-high 25 points, with 20 of them coming in the second half. The Seawolves pushed through for a 69-62 victory, improving their record to 8-1 and continuing the program’s hottest start in Division I history.
“Coming into the game, we knew it’d be tough to run any offense based on the style of play,” head coach Jeff Boals said in a press release. “They press and trap you the whole game and our players had to make plays. The mental concentration you have to have against Manhattan … you have to be on your game for the entire 40 minutes.”
Yeboah was fouled nine times in the second half. He made his first 11 second-half free throws and finished the night shooting 16-for-20 from the line. The guard knocked down Stony Brook’s only three-pointer in the second half as he was pushed to the ground with 1:22 left in the game, creating a two-possession game and a deficit that Manhattan could not bounce back from.
Although Manhattan entered the matchup with a 2-5 record, its balanced roster and successful usage of the press defense proved the Jaspers were not pushovers. Stony Brook jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead, but Manhattan’s tight defense quickly halted their momentum in a game flow that was similar to last Saturday’s victory against Quinnipiac. The Seawolves held on to a slim 34-27 lead at halftime.
Manhattan crawled back using a 10-0 run to take a 39-37 lead with 14:56 remaining in the game. The Seawolves took advantage of the Jaspers’ foul trouble to recover the lead and converted 85 percent of their free throws in the second half. Two of Yeboah’s free throws extended Stony Brook’s lead to 57-49, the widest margin in the second half, but Manhattan’s 10-1 run swung the pendulum back in its favor as they regained a 59-58 lead with three minutes remaining.
A 3-pointer with 1:22 remaining appeared to seal the deal for Stony Brook, but Manhattan junior forward Pauly Paulicap responded with a three-point play to reduce the deficit to just three. On the next possession, senior guard Jaron Cornish sank a clutch floater as the shot clock expired, securing the victory for the Seawolves.
Wednesday’s game emphasized the importance of converting free throws, as 34 of Stony Brook’s 69 points were made at the line. Freshman guard Miles Latimer continued his impressive rookie season, making three quick shots from behind the arc to help Stony Brook establish its early first-half lead. Latimer finished with 13 points.
The Seawolves will strive to extend their winning streak to seven on Saturday, Dec. 8, as they take on Ivy League opponent Brown Bears. The game will take place at the Pizzitola Sports Center in Providence, Rhode Island starting at 2 p.m.