On Sunday evening in Hartford, Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell was on the outs with his backcourt after an upset loss that dropped the Seawolves out of first place in America East. But two days later, it was all hearts and flowers between Pikiell and his backcourt just in time for Valentine's Day.
Stony Brook guards Dave Coley, Anthony Jackson and Carson Puriefoy III totaled 39 points and 10 of the Seawolves' season-high 19 assists on the way to a 73-47 rout of Binghamton Tuesday night at Pritchard Gym. The cherry on top was Vermont's 64-59 loss at Boston University that allowed SBU (18-6, 9-2) to slip back into first place before the Catamounts (16-8, 9-3) visit Friday night.
"I love my backcourt today," Pikiell said. "I wasn't in love with them the other day, but I love them today."
Coley topped Stony Brook with 15 points; Jackson shot 4-for-7 from three-point range for 12, and the freshman Puriefoy had his finest all-around game with 12 points, five rebounds and a career-high six assists. SBU also got 14 rebounds, six points and five assists from Tommy Brenton. Last-place Binghamton (3-22, 1-11) got 14 points and 10 rebounds from Jordan Reed but shot only 29.4 percent from the field.
Describing Pikiell's message to the Seawolves in Monday's practice, Coley said: "It was about us not having a presence. It's not only about offense, but defensively and overall what the backcourt can bring to the team. We had to come with more intensity and be more involved. Against Hartford, we didn't do a good job of that, and today was a good bounce-back for us."
After being on the road for 11 of the previous 15 games, it took the Seawolves a few minutes to get comfortable at home again. They trailed the last-place Bearcats 10-9 in the early going, but they put together a 16-7 run for a 25-17 lead with the help of six points from forward Eric McAlister, who was replaced in the starting lineup by Scott King.
The Bearcats drew within six points late in the first half, but Stony Brook's guards kicked it into high gear, leading a 29-7 run that carried deep into the second half. Jackson had nine points in that stretch that ended with Puriefoy grabbing a turnover and hitting warp speed to split two defenders for a layup and a foul shot for a 59-31 lead. Ultimately, the Seawolves' lead reached 34 points.
"I was trying to attack and get my teammates involved," Puriefoy said. "They were in the right spots, and I just got them the ball and they converted."
Smiling at Coley and Puriefoy, Pikiell added, "They were the two fastest guys on the floor, and that's what they need to be Friday and the rest of the season."