With a little more than two minutes gone in the second half, the nation’s longest Division I winning streak was in jeopardy as Binghamton rose from the depths of the America East standings to take a four-point lead over Stony Brook and stifle two-time league player of the year Jameel Warney.
But with the Bearcats’ 2-3 zone collapsing around Warney, the Seawolves’ outside shooters caught fire from three-point range, and their bombs-away shooting produced Stony Brook’s 14th straight win in a 76-51 blowout last night at Island FCU Arena. The Seawolves (18-4, 9-0 America East) made 11 of 19 three-point shots, including eight of their first nine second-half attempts.
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“Our front court has been carrying us, but tonight was a great night for the backcourt,” Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell said. Speaking of the Bearcats’ active zone defense, Pikiell added, “They can pick their poison. We can shoot.”
Lucas Woodhouse, who has thrived since recovering from a knee injury, enjoyed his highest-scoring game since transferring to Stony Brook this season with 14 points, and Bryan Sekunda and Carson Puriefoy III each had 12. Those three ranked 3-4-5 in that order in three-point shooting in the America East coming into the game, and they were a combined 10 of 14 from distance. Warney totaled 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Rayshaun McGrew added 11 points.
Binghamton (5-17, 2-7) was led by 16 points and nine rebounds from Willie Rodriguez and got 12 points from Marlon Beck II.
“In the first half, (Warney) was missing easy shots he usually makes, and we weren’t penetrating enough and getting in the gaps of the defense,” Woodhouse said. “In the second half, our guards were getting in there and making the unselfish play. People were getting open shots, and we were knocking them down…At the beginning of the second half, we got up eight, and things started flowing.”
Stony Brook’s last loss was Dec. 12 in a non-conference game at Northeastern, but Binghamton succeeded in limiting Warney to four first-half points. Rodriguez scored the first seven second-half points for the Bearcats as they built a 35-31 lead.
The Seawolves responded with a 24-4 run that was fueled by six three-pointers, including three by Woodhouse, two by Sekunda and one from Puriefoy, to take a 55-39 lead. When Binghamton finally scored again on a three-pointer by Beck, it ended a span of 6:54 between baskets for the Bearcats, who committed 11 second-half turnovers to just one by Stony Brook.
Warney has fought through collapsing zone defenses for four years but admitted the Bearcats made him “take tough shots.” When the Seawolves began raining threes, Warney said, “It made me want to get in on the action and shoot a three. It was great to see. Last year, we didn’t have that many weapons. Now, we have a lot of sharpshooters.”