Even without many key offensive pieces, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team performed as expected and made easy work of the Division III Farmingdale State Rams on Wednesday, Dec. 29 in its final tune-up before the beginning of conference play.
The 87-57 win came as Stony Brook (8-5) was missing its second-leading scorer, redshirt junior guard Anthony Roberts, as well as redshirt junior guard Juan Felix Rodriguez and redshirt sophomore guard Tyler Stephenson-Moore.
The two schools last played each other in 2019 with Stony Brook winning 91-44. In the 2015 inaugural meeting, the Seawolves enjoyed a 91-42 rout.
“I’m thrilled to death that we’re 8-5 with who we’ve played and the hand we’ve been dealt with injuries and illness and a variety of other things,” head coach Geno Ford said in a postgame press conference.
Ford explained that the decision to schedule a Division III team such as Farmingdale State was made because non-Division I games do not count towards the advanced metrics used to determine NCAA Tournament seeding, whereas a game against a lesser Division I opponent could weaken Stony Brook’s positioning. He also cited the need to get his team back into rhythm after the players returned home to their families for Christmas break.
“We were just moving the ball well,” senior forward Jaden Sayles said. “We’ve got a good offense which led to good shots. A lot of the baskets we had were assisted, which is always good for us and that’s what we were trying to focus on doing coming into conference play.”
Sayles was one of three Seawolves to score in double figures on Wednesday.
Stony Brook played the first 17 minutes of the game about as flawlessly as it could, putting the game away immediately by holding a 40-11 lead. Seven different players found the hoop for the Seawolves in this span and their defense did not concede a single 3-pointer while forcing 10 Farmingdale State turnovers.
The Rams showed more life to close the first half, making four of its final five field goal attempts and finally recording its first two makes from outside. In the second half, even as Stony Brook opened up a game-high 35-point lead, Farmingdale State countered with three consecutive triples to fight back.
“We kind of were lackadaisical on defense, but we were just out there having fun, really,” Sayles said.
Farmingdale State was held to just nine points in the game’s opening 16.5 minutes, but the Rams scored 48 for the rest of the way by shooting 52% (11-for-21) from beyond the arc.
“I’m pleased [with] the way the game went,” Ford said. “I know we were up by 25 at halftime, but you’re not going to win by 50. That’s a good coach and a good team for their level, and they just kept coming at us. Give them credit, the second half was tighter because they were good, not because we were necessarily bad.”
Redshirt junior guard Tykei Greene was the star of Wednesday’s game, recording a 20-point, 12-rebound double-double, setting a career high in scoring and tying his previous best on the glass. He made his first four baskets and scored nine of Stony Brook’s opening 18 points. Graduate guard Jahlil Jenkins set a new career record with six steals. As a whole, the Seawolves’ defensive unit racked up 12 steals and forced 19 Farmingdale State turnovers.
Without Roberts, graduate guard Omar Habwe made his first start of the season. He decorated the scoresheet with nine points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
“As long as I play the right way and play hard, anything’s possible,” Habwe said. “You don’t have to be a scoring machine, but you’ve got to make a way to the floor.”
Stony Brook’s first test in America East play comes on Sunday, Jan. 2 against the Hartford Hawks on the road. While Hartford made the NCAA Tournament last season, an uproar over the school’s impending descent to Division III and a bevy of injuries has the Hawks at a slow 2-10 start to the season.