AMHERST, Mass. - The disappointment of a premature exit from the America East Tournament had faded by the time Stony Brook took the court against UMass in the first round of the NIT Wednesday night.
Stony Brook's Anthony Jackson made a three-pointer 15 seconds into the game, a sign of his imminent hot shooting and the team's desire to continue the best season in its history. The seventh-seeded Seawolves were dominant for stretches and held off multiple charges by the second-seeded Minutemen in a 71-58 win at the Mullins Center. It was Stony Brook's NCAA-best 13th road win of the season.
Stony Brook (25-7) advances to play at third-seeded Iowa at 9:30 p.m. Wednesday night (ESPNU). After recording the first postseason win in program history, the Seawolves are hoping to put an NIT run together to further erase the bitter taste of their 61-59 loss to Albany on March 10 in the America East semifinals.
"I was hurt bad. That's definitely not how I saw my senior year ending," senior forward Tommy Brenton said. "Once I saw that next game, that's when I really got my focus back."
The Seawolves got 20 points each from Jackson and backcourt mate Dave Coley. Jackson shot 4-for-5 on three-pointers and Coley was a menace defensively with five steals.
"I told guys we needed someone to step up and be big tonight," Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell said. "Our backcourt having 40 points, they both stepped up."
Jameel Warney was a force inside with 16 points and Brenton extended his career with a typically well-rounded effort -- six points, seven assists, six rebounds and four steals.
UMass got 16 points from Freddie Riley, but foul trouble and a shoulder injury limited star point guard Chaz Williams to two points and five turnovers in 16 minutes.
UMass (21-12) pulled to within six points with seven minutes to go, but Jackson drilled a contested jumper from the right wing to fuel a 6-0 run that put Stony Brook ahead 63-51 with 4:33 left. The Minutemen never seriously threatened again.
Both teams got off to blistering starts and the score was tied at 17 after eight minutes. The Minutemen blinked first, going ice cold after building their lead to 25-21.
Stony led by 13 at halftime. But UMass opened the second half with an 8-2 run to close the gap to 40-33.
The Seawolves led 51-42 when Brenton made consecutive passes that had fans saying in disbelief, "Did you see that?" Brenton likely didn't, as both passes were no-looks to set up Warney for dunks.
"Spectacular," Pikiell said. "He didn't want his season to end and he made sure that it didn't."