Stony Brook Men’s Basketball Senior Night Saturday was highlighted by a dominating Stony Brook victory over Maine, led by redshirt-junior forward Akwasi Yeboah and the lone senior guard Jaron Cornish. The stifling defense and raining threes propelled the Seawolves to an 81-53 victory on their last Saturday night regular season game this season.
Stony Brook clinched an America East Conference home game playoff berth with the win. The Seawolves currently have the second best record in the conference due to UMBC’s 84-75 defeat to Albany. Having the home court advantage for quarterfinals has been crucial in the past, as conference teams have gone 23-5 at home with the new format.
The game was off to a sluggish start, with both teams missing shots and turning over the ball. Maine caught Stony Brook off guard with a 2-3 zone defense which stagnated the Seawolves starting the contest. The Seawolves picked up offensively, exploding out to an unanswered 18 point run in the first quarter led by 3-pointers from Yeboah, Cornish and sophomore guard Elijah Olaniyi. The team finished with 10 shots from three in total on the night.
“Really proud of our guys. I think we did a great job sharing the basketball,” head coach Jeff Boals said. “Their zone bothered us in the first game, but we made a concerted effort of getting the ball inside then out and we had 21 assists. When the ball goes in from three, it makes the job a little easier.”
Yeboah scored a season-high 27 points and knocked down five 3-pointers. He also racked up six rebounds, two steals and forced his way to the free throw line, going a perfect eight-for-eight. Olaniyi went on an eight-point scoring run in the first quarter and finished with 16 points, two threes and eight rebounds.
Cornish was honored as the team’s only senior on Saturday night and will also etch himself into the Stony Brook record books when he takes his jersey off for the final time. Cornish is currently tied for fifth in Stony Brook’s Division I era, dishing over three assists per game over his 54-game career. Cornish walked onto the court with his family, who came all the way from the Bahamas, to witness him perform in collegiate basketball for the first time in his two years at Stony Brook.
“For them to see him perform like he did on senior night, I think it was a special night for everybody,” Boals said.
With the team grabbing a 20 point lead at the half, there were great opportunities for the bench to come in and play some valuable minutes. Stony Brook was able to utilize their bench by scoring 23 points.
“We use up our bench a lot,” Yeboah said. “We had a good first and second half, and we were able to extend the lead and that opened up spots for guys who don’t play as much to come in and have fun and enjoy the night.”
The 28-point win is the largest for the Seawolves this season against any Division I opponent. Stony Brook has now won each of the last 18 meetings against Maine including the 64-61 win earlier this year. With one of the biggest games of the regular season coming up, Stony Brook is taking it one game at a time.
“Right now it’s all about us,” Cornish said. “We’re focusing on ourselves and putting ourselves in position to finish number one.”
Stony Brook’s final home regular season contest is a big one, as the Seawolves will host defending conference champion UMBC with pivotal playoff positioning on the line. Tip-off at the Island Federal Credit Union Arena is slated for Wednesday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m.