Junior forward Elijah Olaniyi with the ball during the Stony Brook Men’s Basketball home opener on Nov. 5 against Yale. On Monday against Farmingdale State at home, he scored nine consecutive Stony Brook points near the end of the first half. EMMA HARRIS/THE STATESMAN

The Stony Brook men’s basketball team took care of business against their yearly scheduled Division III opponent, defeating the Farmingdale State Rams 91-44 on Monday, Nov. 11 at Island Federal Credit Union Arena to earn their first victory of the season. Improving to 1-2, the blowout served as a tuneup game as the Seawolves continue their daunting non-conference schedule from here on out.

“We were more comfortable tonight and we were able to play at the pace we wanted in the halfcourt where we could get the ball from spot to spot,” head coach Geno Ford said in a postgame press conference. “We didn’t spend a ton of time dribbling in place. The ball moved, and then we had driving lanes after cuts. It’s something that’s going to get better throughout the year.”

Early on in the game, it was actually the Rams that held the lead, first going up 5-2 after senior forward Hunter Schenkel drained a 3-pointer three minutes into the contest. Schenkel again put the Rams on top with 15:08 remaining in the first half, with his second three of the night giving Farmingdale State an 8-7 lead. He accounted for all of the Rams’ first eight points, also knocking down two free throws to start the scoring for his team.

The Seawolves eventually did what they were expected to do and broke free from the Rams, scoring 14 unanswered points to go on top 21-8. Farmingdale State conceded their fair share of wide-open three-point looks, and Stony Brook took advantage by beginning the night 5-for-10 from beyond the arc, at one point connecting on four straight attempts.

Ford emphasized the importance of learning a new offense. “The better the players learn each other, the better they’re going to get,” Ford said. “The argument is, we’ll be much better in January and February than we are in November. There’s a level of frustration in November at times, but we’ve just got to play our way through it.”

Farmingdale State was able to cut their deficit back to single digits temporarily, but Stony Brook ended the half on a 22-4 run that put the game out of reach in the blink of an eye. Freshman guard Tavin Pierre Philippe slammed down a one-handed dunk and hit both successive free throws after a flagrant one was called on Schenkel for contact during the dunk.

After underwhelming shooting in the team’s first two games, junior forward Elijah Olaniyi caught fire near the end of the first half by scoring nine consecutive Stony Brook points. He capped the stretch off with a layup that brought the game to its 50-24 halftime score.

“I didn’t feel like I started the game the way I wanted to,” Olaniyi said in a postgame press conference. “It’s just responding after the coaches talking to me, and that’s what I did.”

Coming out of the break, Stony Brook missed their first six shots before Olaniyi drilled a three to go up 55-30. Redshirt-junior forward Andrew Garcia took control of the game as well with his own nine-point run that gave the Seawolves a 74-36 lead with 10:50 left. 

The starters eventually were pulled as bench players saw the majority of the action as the game wound down. Fresh off a 28-6 Stony Brook run, neither team scored over a two-minute span, but the drought was broken when Schenkel’s jumper cut the Rams’ deficit to 40. The Rams then proceeded to go scoreless for the next five minutes, missing seven straight free throw attempts and scoring two points in a nine-minute stretch.

Olaniyi led all players with 21 points on 8-for-17 shooting, including three 3-pointers. Four other Seawolves scored in double digits, including Garcia’s 14, junior forward Mouhamadou Gueye’s 12, sophomore guard Miles Latimer’s 11 and Philippe’s 11 — the first points of his collegiate career. Schenkel was the only Rams player to score in double digits with his 12. Stony Brook’s advantage in size and physicality showed in the stat sheet, out-rebounding Farmingdale State 55-28 and allowing just eight offensive boards. 

“I’m excited about the fact that we had 20 assists,” Ford said. “To get to 20 assists means that guys are really trying to share it and that was really encouraging.”

The Seawolves’ challenging non-conference slate continues with a trip to Corpus Christi, Texas to participate in the Islander Invitational, where the team will play three games in three days: Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on Friday, Nov. 15 at 8:30 p.m., Texas-Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 5 p.m. and North Dakota State on Sunday, Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. 

“Three games in three days is my concern,” Ford said. “We can’t go down there and rely on the starters playing 35-40 minutes three straight games and not think there’s going to be a level of fatigue set in come Sunday or even sooner. We’ve got to get better play off the bench, and I thought tonight we did.”

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