The Stony Brook men’s basketball team began the new calendar year the way it ended the last one — winning a conference game on the road.
Following a win in their Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) debut on Saturday, the Seawolves (6-9, 2-0 CAA) traveled to West Long Branch, N.J. on Thursday to take on the Monmouth Hawks. They took full advantage of the CAA’s losingest team, beating them 67-56.
Stony Brook jumped out to a 12-6 lead through the first seven minutes, but Monmouth responded with a 10-0 run led by forwards Myles Foster and Klemen Vuga.
Now trailing 16-12 inside of ten minutes, guard Kaine Roberts stepped back and nailed a three-pointer to flip the momentum. This shot got Roberts going, as he rattled off seven points in a row to spark another run to take the lead back.
With 2:21 remaining in the first half, Roberts knocked down his third three-pointer of the game to put Stony Brook up by double digits. The Seawolves ended the first half on a 26-10 extended run, taking a 12-point lead into halftime.
“Really good road win for us,” head coach Geno Ford said in an interview with Stony Brook Athletics. “Kaine sparked us in the first half, and after the game got tight in the middle of the second half, we made several key plays on both ends.”
Forward Frankie Policelli connected from deep on the first possession of the second half to give Stony Brook a 41-26 lead — their largest of the game. It was all downhill for the Seawolves after this, as the Hawks responded with a 16-1 run over the ensuing 5:16, tying the game at 42 apiece.
Stony Brook and Monmouth traded blows after that, as neither team would back down. However, with 9:32 remaining and the score tied at 46, Stony Brook took all of the momenta back with a highlight-reel play. Guard Tanahj Pettway stripped the ball from Hawks guard Myles Ruth and threw it ahead to Tyler Stephenson-Moore, who fired down a monster two-handed slam to break the tie.
On the next offensive possession, Policelli connected from beyond the arc to extend the Stony Brook lead to 51-46. After Monmouth cut the deficit to three points, Policelli restored its five-point lead with a floater to beat the shot clock, making it 53-48 with 7:12 remaining.
A pair of jumpers by Policelli and Pettway jump-started another big run to help the Seawolves secure their win. With 2:38 remaining, forward Kenan Sarvan drained a three-pointer off a pick-and-pop to put Stony Brook up 62-50, effectively putting the game out of Monmouth’s reach. With only 47 seconds left, Stephenson-Moore knocked down two free throws to cap off a 14-4 run.
After scoring only 38 points through the first 14 games of this season, Roberts scored a career-high 15 on Thursday. He had a perfect day shooting from the field, going 4-for-4 overall and 3-for-3 from deep. He did most of his damage in the first half, scoring 14 points.
For the second straight game, Policelli led all scorers with 17 points.
Stephenson-Moore contributed 15 points on 5-of-13 shooting as well as eight rebounds. For the fourth-straight game, he played all 40 minutes of the contest. It was the sixth time he has done so this season.
The guard has slowed down over the last six games. Though he is still the team’s leading scorer at 14.9 points per game, he has only shot 34.2% overall and 20.7% from deep since Dec. 12.
The Seawolves’ defense continues to be a strength for them. After holding Monmouth to a 33.9% field goal percentage and a 25.0% three-point percentage, Stony Brook ranks atop the CAA in shot defense. They also remain at the top of the defensive rebounding leaderboard in the conference.
Stony Brook will look to continue its hot start to the conference season on Saturday when they return to Island Federal Arena to host the Towson Tigers. Opening tipoff is scheduled for 6:31 p.m. The Tigers are 9-6 on the year and are 1-1 in the CAA. They are coming off a 64-58 win against Drexel on Thursday.
Towson, the reigning CAA champions, has returned to the bulk of its championship roster this season. Ford said that for the Seawolves to upset them, they are going to need some help from their supporters.
“We will need to be ready for an excellent Towson team who are the defending champs in the conference and have all five starters back,” Ford said. “We will need the crowd who have been awesome all season to give us a lift on Saturday night.”