Geno Ford during the Stony Brook Men’s Basketball home opener against Yale on Nov. 5, 2019. The team lost their first game of the season to Saint Peter’s on Dec. 1, 2020. EMMA HARRIS/STATESMAN FILE

After much delay, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team opened its season nearly a week after it was originally planned on Tuesday, Dec. 1, with a road matchup against the Saint Peter’s Peacocks. The rust clearly showed, as the Seawolves fell apart in the second half en route to an 82-68 loss in Jersey City to fall to 0-1 on the season.

“It was great to get to play,” head coach Geno Ford said in a press release. “It being their third game and our first with such a new roster, it was going to be a good test for us. There were several bright spots. Clearly free-throw shooting and turnovers were really concerning tonight.  We will need to play much better on Friday. Our guys are looking forward to the home opener.”

Exemplifying the nature of college athletics in 2020, this game was scheduled merely two days in advance after a positive COVID-19 test in the Sacred Heart program forced a cancelation. Saint Peter’s entered the contest with an impressive resume so far: a close one-point loss to St. John’s and an 11-point defeat of an Atlantic 10 opponent in La Salle.

Turnovers, three-point defense and free-throw shooting were Stony Brook’s biggest enemies in Tuesday’s loss. The Seawolves had their pockets picked for 22 giveaways, and the Peacocks’ 14-point advantage in points off of turnovers (27-13) mirrored their 14-point margin of victory. 

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Stony Brook also gave away points at the line by shooting 48% (12-for-25) on foul shots. On the other hand, Saint Peter’s shot 55% (12-for-22) from beyond the arc and were led by junior guard Dallas Watson, who led all players with 18 points.

Ford opted for a starting five that consisted of only one returning player: senior forward Mouhamadou Gueye. Three other starters — redshirt-sophomore forward Frankie Policelli, junior guard Tykei Greene and senior forward Jaden Sayles — had Division I experience, leaving junior guard Juan Felix Rodriguez as the lone junior college transfer in the starting lineup.

Policelli led his team with 16 points, including 4-for-6 shooting from downtown, in his Stony Brook debut. Sayles and Diallo added 14 and 13 points, respectively, as the only other Seawolves to score in double digits. Greene contributed on the glass with a team-high nine rebounds.

The Seawolves were able to keep it close throughout the first half, but played from behind for most of the game, entering the break facing just a 40-35 deficit. Two straight three-pointers from Policelli opened the second half for Stony Brook to put them up 41-40. 

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It would be the last lead of the night for the Seawolves. Saint Peter’s immediately followed with 17 unanswered points in a stretch that saw Stony Brook turn the ball over on seven different occasions. The Peacocks’ lead grew to as large as 23 with under nine minutes remaining in the game. A 14-2 run for Stony Brook would whittle the deficit down to 11 after a Rodriguez triple, but it was too little, too late.

Stony Brook will make its home debut on Friday, Dec. 4 with a contest against the Fairfield Stags that was originally scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 28 but was postponed for COVID-19 related reasons.

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