Graduate guard Jahlil Jenkins playing in the game against Vermont on Jan. 26. The Seawolves won against the New Hampshire Wildcats on Jan. 28 by seven points. KAT PROCACCI/THE STATESMAN

The last time the Stony Brook men’s basketball team played in Lundholm Gymnasium, the Seawolves threw away a 16-point lead and were ousted in the first round of the conference tournament.

It looked like the same could happen 11 months later, as Stony Brook (13-7, 5-2) led by 20 in the first half while New Hampshire (8-8, 3-4 AE) looked completely lost. The Seawolves needed to withstand a Wildcats second-half comeback that saw their lead evaporate to just four points, but made enough timely shots to pull out the 76-69 win on Friday, Jan. 28.

“That’s an awesome road win for us,” head coach Geno Ford said in a press release. “They were a team that was 7-0 at home and are a really physical squad we had to face on a short turnaround. We played at a really high level for the entire game.”

In a game that was moved up a day to prepare for the upcoming winter storm, Stony Brook held total control at first. The Seawolves broke the game wide open early in the opening minutes, scoring 18 points in a row to go up 22-6 with 12:53 left in the first half. Multiple New Hampshire turnovers aided stony Brook, leading to quick transition buckets off the swipe and open looks from three.

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The Wildcats entered the contest with the fewest turnovers in all of Division I at just 8.4 per game. By the half, Stony Brook had already forced New Hampshire to cough the ball up 11 times. Guard Jahlil Jenkins was the biggest spark plug during the Seawolves’ dominant run, picking the pockets of merciless Wildcats and hitting his outside shots. He scored 12 points in the game’s first seven minutes as he marched towards 2,000 in his collegiate career.

Of Stony Brook’s first 18 shot attempts, 13 came from beyond the arc. Six of those were converted as the Seawolves’ lead grew to 38-18 at its largest. New Hampshire secured 11 first-half offensive rebounds against the smaller Stony Brook squad, but it was of no help as the team shot 1-for-12 from three. 

Nevertheless, when Stony Brook’s ball movement and deep shooting faltered, New Hampshire got back into a game that looked like it was already over. Wildcats forward Nick Guadarrama, the team’s second-leading scorer, was held off the board in the first half. He was fed inside and finally converted from outside, putting up all of his game-high 22 points in the second frame.

Ford switched to a zone defense as New Hampshire cut the lead down to 55-51, a scheme that he admitted two days prior was “not something we’re good at.” It appeared to work when the Seawolves scored nine of the game’s next 10 points to go up by 12 again. 

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“They made some runs in the second half, which good teams do, but we were able to keep a comfortable lead despite them playing really well in the second half,” he said. “The runs had more to do with how well they were playing. I did not think we played poorly in the second half.”

Jenkins dropped the dagger when he fired a long three late in the shot clock that looked off the mark before rattling into the hoop late. The bucket gave Stony Brook a 70-57 lead with 3:23 left. Jenkins led his team with 20 points while adding seven assists and three steals to boot. 

Also integral to the Seawolves’ clutchness was a near-perfect 19-for-20 performance at the line. Although New Hampshire ended with 16 offensive rebounds, the team did not convert many of them into actual points, most notably on one first-half trip where the Wildcats earned five opportunities during the same possession and still could not find a basket.

Seawolves guard Tyler Stephenson-Moore also had his best game of the season, dropping 16 points and matching his career-high of four made 3-pointers.

Next time out on Wednesday, Feb. 2, the Seawolves will look to pull off the season sweep against Binghamton. The Bearcats are still shockingly in third place in the America East.

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