Stony Brook loses after storm impacts journey to Hartford
WEST HARTFORD, Conn. -- Count Steve Pikiell's basketball team among the victims of the massive snowstorm.
The Seawolves lead Division I with 10 true road wins this season, but even they couldn't overcome the travails of post-blizzard travel. Stony Brook suffered a 60-55 America East loss to Hartford in a game postponed from 7 p.m. Saturday to 2 p.m. Sunday, then pushed pack to a 2:45 tipoff because the bus trip from the Bridgeport ferry took so long.
For 23 minutes, it seemed the Seawolves (17-6, 8-2) were enjoying smooth sledding as they took a 39-30 lead with 17:03 left in the second half. But Hartford (14-10, 7-4) melted Stony Brook's defensive resolve with a rapid-fire succession of three-point baskets. John Peterson, Nate Sikma and Evan Cooper knocked down three straight long balls to begin a 14-1 Hawks run that ended with another three from Wes Cole for a 44-40 lead.
"You feel real good going on the road and leading by nine against a good basketball team," Pikiell said. "We gave up three threes in that spot. They were open. One was on a walk-up, and we never make mistakes on walk-ups. They have a lot of guys that can make threes . . . and Nwakamma made all his jump shots."
Pikiell's reference was to Hartford's Mark Nwakamma, who had 23 points and shot 10-for-14. He spends most of his time around the basket, but the 6-6 forward was one of five Hawks to connect as part of the 10-for-23 bombardment from beyond the arc, including 7-for-11 in the second half. Cooper had 11 points and Sikma added nine as both shot 3-for-6 on three-pointers.
Hartford had lost nine in a row to the Seawolves, who fell a half-game behind first-place Vermont.
Until Hartford warmed up, Stony Brook -- which dominated points in the paint 40-16 -- was in control. Freshman center Jameel Warney had nine rebounds and scored 12 of his career-high 21 points in the first half. He opened the second half with a layup and a dunk for a 36-27 lead, but the Hawks made it difficult on him by double-teaming him on the catch. Warney made only half of his six foul shots, and the Seawolves hit only 9 of 17.
"They played a very good defense in the second half on me," Warney said. "They were fronting me and having back-side help."
Stony Brook also got 11 points, six rebounds and five assists from Tommy Brenton and 10 points from Anthony Jackson, but the Seawolves shot 2-for-11 from three-point range. After Stony Brook took its 39-30 lead, it made only four of its next 17 shots and committed seven turnovers.
It was natural to wonder if the snowstorm took a toll on the Seawolves. After they caught a 10:30 a.m. ferry across the Sound, the team bus got stuck in the snow in Bridgeport and later was delayed because of an overturned car.
"Of course we had trouble getting here, but it shouldn't have affected the way we played," Jackson said. "Give credit to Hartford. They played a good game."