In the second game of a six-game homestand, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team was obliterated by the Wagner Seahawks 78-49 on Saturday, Dec. 4.
Nothing went right for the Seawolves in a night that culminated with a disastrous opening to the second half which dug the team’s grave in the blink of an eye.
“We played Kansas more competitively than we played tonight,” head coach Geno Ford said in a postgame press conference. “The second half tonight was about as bad as you could really play … As bad as we were on offense, we were even worse on defense.”
Stony Brook (3-4) allowed Wagner (3-1) to make an unsightly 20 of its first 25 second-half field goals (80%). The Seawolves could not buy a basket anywhere — not in the paint, not from the perimeter, not from beyond the arc and not even at the foul line, where the Seawolves shot 47% (8-for-17) on the night.
Wagner entered the contest, looking to shake off some rust. The Seahawks went over two weeks between games after many members of the team tested positive for COVID-19. Prior to the pause, though, the team was living up to its hype as preseason Northeast Conference favorites, even stunning VCU of the Atlantic 10 on the road.
Before the game, it was unclear how decimated the Seahawks would be versus the Seawolves. They played without head coach Bashir Mason and three starters against No. 25 Seton Hall in a game that was close at halftime and their first action since Nov. 13. Mason and his top two scorers — graduate guards Alex Morales and Will Martinez — returned on Saturday as the team expected.
Their presence was instantly felt as Stony Brook trailed for the entire game. Entering with an offense that scored at least 80 in its last two games, the Seawolves put up just 23 before the break. Graduate guard Jahlil Jenkins scored all the team’s first seven points but Stony Brook struggled to finish inside, making just 33% of their 2-pointers on the entire night.
“We were just not very tough,” Ford said. “I thought that we got the ball around the rim and we jumped away from the basket and didn’t really shot-fake and pivot and go through contact like we’ve been doing.”
Down by seven points at halftime, Stony Brook allowed Wagner to immediately score two buckets in 40 seconds, taking a double-digit lead as Ford burned a quick timeout. It did not stop the bleeding, which only got worse. The Seawolves continued to turn the ball over and Wagner scored eight more points in 95 seconds, forcing Ford to use a second timeout less than three minutes into the second half.
“We called the first timeout because we literally came out and didn’t do either thing that we talked about at halftime,” Ford said, referring to how neither of his guards was open after an inbound, resulting in a turnover. “On the second one, we were just talking about competing and it became, ‘Forget the score, try to play the right way, let’s try to find a rhythm.’”
Wagner’s run did not end. Only when redshirt junior center Alex Christie made the front end of a one-and-one did the Seahawks’ onslaught of 18 straight points come to a close. Playing in a manageable game at halftime, Stony Brook fell down 52-25 over just six minutes. The Seawolves converted only one of eight shots in the span while coughing the ball up four times.
Graduate guard Elijah Olaniyi was still seen on crutches. Ford described his injury as a “lower-body, leg” ailment and stated that he is not expected to be back soon.
In what is becoming a regularity, Wagner out-rebounded Stony Brook 43-27 and made 57% of its 2-point shots. The Seawolves were on the right side of those numbers against American but have yet to accomplish so in any other game.
The 29-point home loss is the worst margin of defeat at Stony Brook since the Seawolves lost by 41 to St. John’s in 1999. Stony Brook alumnus Joe Nathan was in attendance as the six-time MLB All-Star makes his first appearance on the baseball Hall of Fame ballot.
“I’m hoping tonight was a blip,” Ford said. “I’m hoping that we just were out of sync and had a bad performance.”