Redshirt sophomore guard Tyler Stephenson-Moore dunking in the game against Central Connecticut State on Dec. 14. Stephenson-Moore scored 14 points against the Blue Devils. ETHAN TAM/THE STATESMAN

The Stony Brook men’s basketball team routed the Blue Devils 87-67 on Tuesday, Dec. 14.

Not the Duke Blue Devils, mind you, but the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils, who lost their third straight game to drop to 2-9. On the opposite end, Stony Brook (6-4) earned its third consecutive victory by putting up its largest scoring output of the season.

“When we move the ball and play unselfish, a lot of people can score in this team,” graduate guard Jahlil Jenkins said in a postgame press conference.

Jenkins led all players with 21 points. He was one of five Stony Brook players to score in double digits, a testament to how balanced the Seawolves’ offense is right now. The team recorded 17 assists, of which Jenkins had five.

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“I thought we really shared the ball,” head coach Geno Ford said. “We were coming off 18 assists against Bryant, but Bryant played all zone. Zone forces you to pass the ball on the high post and into the short corner and kick it out because of the design of the defense. [CCSU] played all man except for maybe eight minutes.”

Ford, who earned his 200th career win as a head coach, praised redshirt sophomore forward Frankie Policelli for his ball movement, believing that the 6’7” Dayton transfer passed the ball even better than his four assists on the stat sheet would show.

Stony Brook converted a season-high 14 3-pointers and out-rebounded CCSU 35-31, the second-best margin on the glass for the Seawolves in a game this season. Jenkins and redshirt junior guard Anthony Roberts both made five shots from beyond the arc.

“[I was most impressed with] seeing all the hard work we put in individually and building team chemistry,” redshirt sophomore guard Tyler Stephenson-Moore said. “I felt like that was kind of a struggle in the beginning, but now we’re starting to figure each other out and everyone’s knowing their role.”

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CCSU was the fourth Northeast Conference (NEC) opponent that the Seawolves played in this season’s non-conference schedule, but the team saw vastly different outcomes in each of those four games. Stony Brook needed a heroic game-winning shot against Sacred Heart, was owned by NEC favorites Wagner, went up early but held on versus Bryant and now destroyed Central Connecticut State with ease.

“When we came out, we were locked in,” Jenkins said. “We tried to get three wins in a row. Our defense has been on point lately. We’ve got a lot of people who can score, so if we move the ball, we’re a fun team to watch.”

The game was still tied at 7-7, entering the first media timeout, but immediately after, Stony Brook ran away with it. The Seawolves scored 18 unanswered points, moving the ball with ease and effortlessly scoring at all levels, including Jenkins turning a steal into an easy bucket.

Stephenson-Moore’s triple made it 22-7; he and Jenkins were the stars of the first half. Holding the ball under the hoop, Stephenson-Moore dished it to redshirt junior guard Tykei Greene for the smooth layup. Finding himself in the same location on the subsequent possession, Stephenson-Moore elevated for the slam.

Stony Brook led 47-30 at the break, putting up its highest first-half scoring output of the year. 

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The second half would not be any easier for the Blue Devils. The Seawolves would lead by as much as 28 points and were able to put in their reserves with four minutes remaining in the game. Even in a favorable blowout, Ford expressed displeasure with his team’s nine turnovers in the second half, chalking it up to the Blue Devils’ defensive adjustments and his players’ lack of focus while playing with a gigantic lead.

“We’re trying to chase good possessions,” Ford said. “Early in the year, we were chasing points and I think that was pretty evident. We had two assists in the first game. Some of that is not knowing each other, but some of that is not being rewarded. I could show you five straight possessions in the second half of George Mason that looked exactly like those possessions we had tonight, with all the nice ball movement and good extra passing — and we missed all five shots.”

Roberts scored 19, Stephenson-Moore ended with 14, Greene had 14 and redshirt junior guard Juan Felix Rodriguez put up 11. The Seawolves are averaging 84 points per game during their current three-game winning streak.

“We’ve made some huge steps to our chemistry and knowing what guys are likely to do with the ball in certain areas and not necessarily cutting on top of drivers,” Ford said. “In college, there’s no defensive three second [violation], so there’s people packed in the lane and guys have to make good decisions on the end of drives. But it puts pressure on the other four guys to space properly and be on time in the right area. We’re getting much, much better at that.”

Stony Brook concludes its six-game homestand at Island Federal Arena on Saturday, Dec. 18 against Saint Peter’s. The contest is a rematch of last year’s season opener for Stony Brook, in which the Seawolves dropped 82-68.

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