Entering Saturday afternoon’s matchup versus Stony Brook Men’s Basketball, the New Hampshire Wildcats were ranked 352nd out of all 353 Division I teams according to the rating percentage index. It boasted a 3-21 record, with two of those victories coming against Division III schools Rivier and Mount Saint Vincent, meaning that New Hampshire had only one win against a Division I program in the entire season.
Yet, with a second left, Wildcats senior guard Jordan Reed launched a three that fell inches from going in, bouncing out of the rim harmlessly as the Seawolves escaped with a 66–64 victory, improving their record to 21–5 and 9–2 in America East play.
“I’m really proud of our guys for finding a way to win a game,” head coach Jeff Boals said in a press release. “New Hampshire has played tough all year long, especially at home. When you go into someone else’s gym, you have to raise your level of energy and intensity. We feel very fortunate to come out with a win in what became a dogfight.”
Coming off a bye, the matchup had all the makings of a trap game, and Stony Brook was lucky to leave without suffering a humiliating upset to one of the lower caliber college basketball programs. For New Hampshire, who had lost nine in a row after their lone Division I victory against UMass Lowell, the season was more of the same for a school that finished with a winning record just three times in the last 24 years.
With 3:46 remaining in the game, redshirt-sophomore forward Andrew Garcia stripped the ball from New Hampshire sophomore guard Josh Hopkins and dunked it in to give the Seawolves a 63–59 lead. Both teams went scoreless over the next two minutes in a hail of turnovers and missed 3-pointers. The Wildcats were able to cut their deficit down to one when Hopkins hit a three at the line to bring the score to 63–62. Garcia was then fouled, nailing both free throws to bring the Stony Brook lead back up to three.
Stony Brook senior guard Jaron Cornish was instantly fouled on the inbound after a New Hampshire missed layup and a turnover. Cornish made one of two to extend the Seawolves’ lead to 66–62 but New Hampshire junior forward Chris Lester was able to drive to the basket for the layup, making the score to 66–64 with eight seconds remaining. Cornish was fouled off the inbound again, but missed both free throws and gave the Wildcats the chance to tie or win. With the chance to knock off an America East powerhouse at home, Reed found a look and fired the three, which missed its mark as Stony Brook was able to finally exhale.
The Seawolves began the game uncharacteristically rusty, shooting just 24 percent and missing several easy layups. Neither team was knocking down their shots well, as the Wildcats mustered just 30 percent of their shots. Both teams entered the half tied at 26, but the Seawolves came out of the break hot and scored eight of the first 11 points, taking a 34–29 lead. The teams went back and forth, but the Wildcats took their largest lead of the game at 54–50 with 5:19 remaining. Offense was much more abundant, as Stony Brook shot 54 percent while New Hampshire shot 44 percent in the second half.
Both Garcia and redshirt-junior forward Akwasi Yeboah led Stony Brook in scoring with 15 points, but Garcia also earned 10 rebounds in his third double-double of the season. Reed led all players with 17 points. The win was the Seawolves’ 12th on the road, a statistic which continues to be the highest of any Division I program in the nation.
Stony Brook will return to Long Island for a three-game homestand, the first of which starts on Thursday, Feb. 21 as they host Albany at 7 p.m. at Island Federal Credit Union Arena.