Graduate guard Jahlil Jenkins scored 12 points in five minutes during the second half and 17 total on 7-for-13 shooting to power the Stony Brook men’s basketball team to a 65-51 win against the UMBC Retrievers at home Monday, Jan. 17.
Redshirt junior guard Tykei Greene added a double-double (11 points, 12 rebounds) and redshirt junior guard Anthony Roberts put up 11 points to round out the scoring.
The win, in which the Seawolves (10-6, 2-1 AE) allowed the fewest points they have all season, came off the heels of a 98-65 blowout loss to Vermont, the team’s largest margin of defeat in five years.
In response to that loss, head coach Geno Ford overhauled the starting lineup and told his players before the game that they would not find success as a team if their defense did not improve. Greene was the only starter from the Vermont game that took the floor first against UMBC (6-9, 1-3 AE).
“Our effort defensively probably negatively impacted our shooting in a degree because that’s harder than we’ve tried defensively in a while,” Ford said in a postgame press conference. “The guys who started really flew around and got stops at the beginning of the game.”
The results were impressive. UMBC shot just 30.8 percent from the floor while tying their lowest scoring output of the season, and the Seawolves added 10 steals to control the momentum.
Jenkins said the Vermont loss inspired the team to start fast and aggressive against UMBC, a strategy Greene said was successful in changing the team’s mood.
“After the Vermont game there was a lot of people in the wrong mindsets,” Greene said. “This win tells us we can stay in the game, competing with people.”
The Seawolves’ aggressiveness paid few dividends as they fell into a 19-8 hole after missing several shots inside the paint early on. But once Stony Brook found its rhythm, they scored 14 unanswered points by outspeeding the Retrievers in transition.
“When we play fast, it’s hard to beat us,” Jenkins said.
A 3-pointer at the end of the half from redshirt sophomore forward Frankie Policelli broke a 24-24 tie and put Stony Brook up for good.
Jenkins’ scoring spree controlled the start of the second half, and his 3-pointer with 10 minutes remaining stalled a brief Retrievers comeback and allowed Stony Brook to reduce the tempo for the rest of the game.
“We needed this game bad,” Jenkins said. “Going forward, it’s very important.”
Stony Brook travels to Binghamton with a chance to overtake the Bearcats for second in the standings on Jan. 19.