Murphy’s Law — anything that can go wrong will go wrong — was in full effect for the Stony Brook men’s basketball team on Saturday, Feb. 8 as the Seawolves (16-9, 7-3) fell 81-64 to the New Hampshire Wildcats (11-11, 4-5) on the road in Lundholm Gymnasium.
After missing their first 15 field goals to start the game and going down by 22 points to the Wildcats, who the Seawolves had stomped by 25 less than a month ago, what was already bad turned even worse 30 seconds in the second half. Junior guard Elijah Olaniyi, who entered the game as the team’s leading scorer and the second-leading scorer in the America East at 19.7 points per game, went down with a lower body injury after being tangled up with New Hampshire junior guard Sean Sutherlin.
Olaniyi remained down on the court for several minutes and limped off on crutches. He had been held scoreless to the point, picking up three fouls in the first half and missing all four of his shots.
“Give New Hampshire credit,” head coach Geno Ford said in a press release. “They were the more physical team and were able to dictate what they wanted to do.”
The injury was another blow in a long afternoon for the Seawolves. Both teams struggled offensively to begin, with the game still scoreless four minutes in. Stony Brook and New Hampshire combined to shoot 1-for-20 before the first media timeout, and by the second media timeout, the Seawolves were still off the board as the Wildcats held a 9-0 lead.
Freshman guard Tyler Stephenson-Moore put Stony Brook on the board at the line, making his third straight start, and redshirt-junior forward Andrew Garcia got his team’s first bucket with 11:37 remaining in the first half. The scoring cut New Hampshire’s lead to just five, but the Wildcats would quickly pull away, using a 21-4 run that saw them hit on eight of their 14 field goal attempts, including 4-for-7 from three. In comparison, Stony Brook shot 1-for-8 with five turnovers during this stretch and found themselves down 30-8.
New Hampshire led 35-14 at the break and went up by 22 points again with 11:18 to go in the game. As Sutherlin and sophomore forward Nick Guadarrama were forced to the bench with four fouls, the Seawolves began to effectively run a full-court press, forcing numerous Wildcats turnovers in the backcourt. First it was Stephenson-Moore who came up with the steal and the layup, and then it was redshirt-junior guard Makale Foreman, who tracked down a loose ball and quickly sunk a corner three. Foreman’s bucket made it a single-digit game again, cutting New Hampshire’s lead to 57-48.
It was the closest the Seawolves would get. The Wildcats drew a foul and then drained two consecutive 3-pointers to open their lead up back to 17. 17 points would be the margin of victory for New Hampshire.
“We had a really tough day offensively,” Ford said. “We could not score. Give them credit.”
Stephenson-Moore, in just his third career start, led his team with 19 points while falling one board short of a double-double. Garcia had 17 and Foreman had 16 for a team that shot 29% from the floor and 23% from beyond the arc. The Wildcats were led by senior forward Chris Lester, who had a career-high 22 points. Three other New Hampshire players scored in double digits.
Stony Brook stays on the road on Wednesday to take on the Binghamton Bearcats (8-15, 2-8), who have given the Seawolves their only home loss in conference play this season. Stony Brook will look for vengeance on Feb. 12 at the Binghamton University Events Center against a team that has seemingly had their number over the last two matchups between these New York schools.