Despite shooting around in pregame warmups, the leading scorer on the Stony Brook men’s basketball team, guard Anthony Roberts, never saw the court on Wednesday, Feb. 23. Without him, the Seawolves’ offense displayed a new level of futility in a 67-50 loss to the UMass Lowell River Hawks.
After the game, Stony Brook Athletics informed The Statesman that Roberts sat out with a stomach bug.
Wednesday’s defeat was the continuation of a month-long freefall that began on Feb. 2, when the America East banned Stony Brook from the postseason tournament for moving to the Colonial Athletic Association.
The Seawolves woke up that morning comfortably in second place with a 5-2 conference record. Since then, the team has lost six of their next nine games, was robbed of the chance to compete for an NCAA Tournament bid and saw several players leave the program in the middle of the season.
The first half was an extremely ugly showcase of offensive ineptitude by both teams. UMass Lowell led 24-17 at the half by shooting 29% (9-for-31) from the field and 25% (3-for-12) from downtown, which were still higher rates than Stony Brook’s 24% (7-for-29) and 15% (2-for-13), respectively.
Both teams went scoreless for a four-minute span in the first half, missing 10 straight shots combined while turning the ball over five times. When the River Hawks finally ended their drought, it had been six minutes since they last found the scoreboard. Once down by nine, the Seawolves were able to make it a one-possession game.
UMass Lowell saw a lot of open looks rim out, while Stony Brook missed a plethora of easy bunnies under the hoop. Something had to give eventually.
It did not take long for the River Hawks to break the game open in the second half, scoring 10 unanswered points in under two minutes to open up a 14-point lead. UMass Lowell guard Ayinde Hikim kick-started the run with back-to-back triples, but it was forward Max Brooks who really embarrassed the Seawolves. Brooks went up for four dunks in the first five minutes of the second half, the most eye-popping one coming as he received a lob from guard Quinton Mincey that pushed head coach Geno Ford to call a timeout.
The two-headed attack of Stony Brook guards, Tyler Stephenson-Moore and Tykei Greene, did their best to match the River Hawks bucket for bucket after that. But by that point, it was too late; Stephenson-Moore set a new career-high with 20 points on 6-for-9 shooting from deep, while Greene chipped in 17 points and eight rebounds. The duo accounted for almost three-fourths of the Seawolves’ scoring.
Freshman guard Kaine Roberts, fresh off a 10-point game on Sunday, made his first career start. While Anthony Roberts’ absence from the starting lineup was not incredibly unusual given how often he had come off the bench, he remained on the bench in street clothes the entire time. Kaine Roberts did not replicate Sunday’s performance, instead going scoreless on four shots while playing 25 minutes.
No matter how close to the basket Stony Brook attempted a shot, the ball would not go in as the team missed 18 layups. The Seawolves overcame one of their biggest weaknesses this season with a plus-8 margin on the glass, but turned 17 offensive boards into a paltry 21 second-chance points.
Even in the game’s closing seconds, UMass Lowell found a way to show up the Seawolves. Seemingly content to just dribble out the shot clock, River Hawks guard Anthony Blunt instead fired away a buzzer-beating three with 11 ticks left to put his team up by 17. Then, Greene looked to go in for a soft layup before he was met by the hand of Brooks, who swatted the ball away with fury.
There may have only been two seconds left in the game, but Brooks, who had a 10-point, 11-rebound double-double, did not care. He was intent on looking dominant over the Seawolves until the final horn.
In a nutshell, it summed up what Wednesday’s game felt like for Stony Brook.