The Stony Brook men’s basketball team is built to shoot threes, but making them was an issue in the season opener as the Seawolves fell apart late against the George Mason Patriots on Tuesday, Nov. 9 in a 74-52 loss at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax, Virginia.
With 11:40 left in the second half, the Seawolves were only behind 52-45 thanks to a three-point play by redshirt junior guard Anthony Roberts. The Patriots proceeded on a 19-2 run after that, holding Stony Brook scoreless for over seven minutes while George Mason scored 15 unanswered points to take a 24-point lead.
As expected, Stony Brook attempted 28 threes. Only six went in.
“We have a lot of new guys and it’s going to take some time to build some chemistry,” head coach Geno Ford said in a press release. “We had 11 guys miss over a week of preseason and that showed with our sense of timing and purpose on offense. They did a great job moving their feet, and we had a hard time getting past the primary defender much of the night.”
George Mason out-rebounded Stony Brook 44-31 and denied the Seawolves second chances. Stony Brook struggled to get a consistent inside game going and did not get hot from downtown despite a three-heavy approach, shooting 21% beyond the arc.
Stony Brook’s first starting five of the season consisted of four guards: graduates Jahlil Jenkins and Elijah Olaniyi and redshirt juniors Juan Felix Rodriguez and Anthony Roberts. Redshirt junior forward Mohamed Diallo was the tallest Seawolves player on the court to begin the game, standing 6’6″ at 215 pounds.
The Seawolves’ smaller size gave George Mason an advantage early — Patriots junior forward Josh Oduro was able to win the battle down low and recorded eight points and four rebounds in 10 minutes before having to sit with two fouls.
Diallo stole a pass and got the easy layup to cut George Mason’s lead to 35-27 before halftime. However, coming out of the break, the Patriots continued to feed Oduro, opening up a 14-point lead.
It looked as if momentum would swing back to Stony Brook’s way when the team scored six unanswered points in just over a minute to make it a 50-42 game. Jenkins intercepted a cross-court pass, his third steal of the night, and took it all the way back, prompting a George Mason timeout.
Instead, the Seawolves continued to get beat in the paint, where the Patriots dominated 44-24. George Mason made an alarmingly high 69% (25-for-36) of field goals inside the arc, led by Oduro’s game-high 16 points.
The guard-heavy Stony Brook offense recorded only two assists (none in the first half) and looked out of rhythm the entire night. Even when the team created open looks outside, the shots missed poorly, including redshirt sophomore forward Frankie Policelli’s 0-for-4 night from three.
Jenkins looked like the dynamic player he was advertised as and helped Stony Brook force 14 turnovers while leading the team with 13 points. He and Roberts put up double figures, the latter doing so entirely in the second half, but Stony Brook’s performance was not nearly enough compared to pregame expectations.
George Mason’s first-year head coach, Kim English, a 2012 second-round Detroit Pistons draft pick out of Missouri, picked up the win in his inaugural head coaching performance.
The Seawolves, meanwhile, will need to pick up the pieces from Tuesday’s defeat before heading to Allen Fieldhouse on Thursday, Nov. 18 to take on an even larger opponent, the No. 3 Kansas Jayhawks, in Lawrence.
“We definitely need the practice time, as we just aren’t very good right now,” Ford said. “Luckily, we’ll get that heading into our Kansas game. I like our group and we will continue to get better.”