Guard Tanahj Pettway (background) and center Keenan Fitzmorris (foreground) hustling back on defense against Sacred Heart on Monday, Dec. 12. The two had career games in the Stony Brook men’s basketball team’s CAA debut. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

The Stony Brook men’s basketball team ended 2022 with a bang by snagging a win in its Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) debut.

After an eight-day rest, the Seawolves (5-9, 1-0 CAA) traveled to Boston on Saturday to take on the Northeastern Huskies. After maintaining a substantial lead for most of the matchup, Stony Brook was able to extinguish a second-half rally and snag a 65-61 win. The win was Stony Brook’s first on the road this season.

Northeastern started off well through the first three minutes, taking an 8-2 lead after a three-pointer from guard Jahmyl Telfort. However, the Seawolves dominated the rest of the first half, as they outscored the Huskies 29-15 over the remaining 17:25 of the period. Hot shooting from forward Frankie Policelli and guard Tanahj Pettway spearheaded Stony Brook’s run, as both scored eight points each and nailed a pair of threes.

The Seawolves’ solid defensive play was key to their first-half success. They held Northeastern to just 33.3% shooting from the floor. At one point, Stony Brook held Northeastern to a seven-minute, 13-second stretch without a field goal. The Seawolves clogged lanes and dared their opponents to shoot. This game plan worked in their favor, as the Huskies shot just 15.4% from deep in the half. Stony Brook’s play on both ends of the court helped them reach a 31-22 lead by halftime.

Advertisement

The Seawolves got right back to work after the break with center Keenan Fitzmorris leading the charge. After scoring with a layup on the first possession, he drew multiple fouls and earned two trips to the free throw line. He knocked down all four attempts to give Stony Brook a 35-22 lead with 18:34 remaining.

The Huskies made things interesting, as they slowly chipped away at Stony Brook’s lead. Telfort cut Northeastern’s deficit down to seven by scoring nine points in a span of four minutes.

After Telfort’s scoring spree, things got even dicier for the Seawolves. Northeastern forward Chris Doherty scored six unanswered points of his own, starting with back-to-back wide-open, mid-range jumpers. After getting the defense to respect his jumper, he drove the lane for an easy finish to cut the score to 45-43 with 7:06 remaining.

Despite the pressure, Stony Brook held onto their lead. With 4:56 remaining, Policelli drew a double-team from the left corner. After good ball movement from the Seawolves, Pettway found guard Tyler Stephenson-Moore wide open in the opposite corner. He promptly knocked down a three-pointer to extend their lead to 52-46. 

Advertisement

With 4:29 remaining, Fitzmorris extended Stony Brook’s lead to eight by hitting two free throws. However, the Huskies did not back down. After making only four three-pointers as a team through the first 35 minutes, Northeastern forward Coleman Stucke connected from deep in back-to-back possessions to make it 54-52 inside of two minutes. 

In need of a score to pull away, Stony Brook ran down the shot clock before giving it to Stephenson-Moore on the left wing. He faked a drive to the right, stepped back to his left and drained a contested long three-pointer. The shot gave Stony Brook a 58-52 advantage with 55 seconds remaining. 

Ten seconds later, guard Toby Onyekonwu knocked down a pair of free throws to put Stony Brook up by three possessions. However, Northeastern guard Glen McClintlock made a pair of free throws, and then guard Rashad King stole the ball from Onyekonwu. King converted with a layup to make it 60-56. 

The Seawolves left the door open for Northeastern after turning the ball over again, as an inbound pass deflected off of Policelli’s hands and out of bounds. However, the Huskies squandered the opportunity when Stucke missed a three-pointer with 33 seconds left. After that, Stephenson-Moore and Policelli iced the game with free throws to put the game away.

“Heck of a road win for us to open our first CAA season,” head coach Geno Ford said in an interview with Stony Brook Athletics. “I thought several guys stepped up and played well.” 

Advertisement

Policelli led all scorers with 17 points on 5-of-10 shooting, and went 3-for-7 from deep. He also led all players in rebounds with eight. He leads the CAA in rebounds per game with 10.1, and is second in the nation in defensive rebounds per game with 8.5. 

Fitzmorris set a new career-high with 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting and went 6-for-6 from the charity stripe. Pettway also set a new career-high in scoring with 15, knocking down 4-of-7 shots and shooting 3-for-4 from deep.

Stephenson-Moore scored 14 points and contributed a career-high six assists. The team’s co-captain played all 40 minutes of the contest. He has now accomplished this feat five times this season, including each of the last three games. He is now fourth in the NCAA in minutes played per game. 

“We shared the ball and got four of our guys in double figures,” Ford said. “We need to continue to work to get better because all of these games, home or away, will be hard.”

Stony Brook will look to start its 2023 with a win on Thursday, as it will travel to West Long Branch, N.J. to take on the Monmouth Hawks. The Hawks are having a brutal start to their season, as they are just 1-13 on the year. They are coming off a 68-55 loss in their CAA debut against UNC Wilmington on Wednesday, Dec. 28.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.