From the perspective of Hofstra coach Joe Mihalich, the “Battle of Long Island” would have been a more even fight if the Pride hadn’t lost floor general Juan’ya Green for the final 16:43 of the first half after he picked up two quick fouls. True, Stony Brook point guard Carson Puriefoy III also sat the final 16:14 of the first half with two fouls, but the Seawolves still had their lead horse in center Jameel Warney for 37 minutes.
The Pride did a good job of slowing down Warney in the first half Sunday, but he was at the heart of a second-half comeback that carried host Stony Brook to a 71-68 victory. Warney had 22 points, nine rebounds and five blocked shots and Green was held to five points and 1-for-8 shooting in only 23 minutes. He missed a potential tying three-pointer at the buzzer.
Asked how Green’s absence affected the Pride, Mihalich said, “What do you think? Their star played for 37 minutes. The guys sucked it up and did a good job, but it would have been better to have Juan’ya on the floor for 37 minutes.”
Hofstra (6-4) got great production from Ameen Tanksley, who had 23 points and six rebounds, and Brian Bernardi, who scored 22 points and shot 6-for-10. But the Pride didn’t have as much manpower as the Seawolves (6-4), who had a 19-3 advantage in bench points.
“We did a great job on a great player who scores a ton of points,” Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell said of Green. “He was in foul trouble. That’s going to help us, but we also had our point guard sit on the bench for the whole first half, too.”
Hofstra threw the kitchen sink at Warney with a variety of defensive looks and held him to six points in taking a 31-27 halftime lead. Rokas Gustys, who had eight points and 13 rebounds, held his own against Warney.
“It was a wrestling match, a great competition,” Warney said. “He’s a strong guy. He pushed me off the block a little bit. It was another challenge for me to find a way to help my team out.”
Trailing the Pride 44-39 after Green’s three-pointer, Stony Brook took control with a 24-13 run that included 11 points by Warney, two three-pointers by Puriefoy (seven points) and threes by Lucas Woodhouse (nine points, five assists) and Roland Nyama (eight points) for a 63-57 lead. When Hofstra crept closer, Ahmad Walker (eight assists, seven rebounds) passed to Warney for a dunk and then converted a three-point play for a 68-64 lead with 1:24 left.
Said Walker, “They gave us 2-3 matchup, man-to-man switching, 1-3-1, a little bit of pressure defense. In the first half, we moved too fast. In the second half, we slowed down and took it down late in the shot clock and were able to get what we wanted.”
When the rivalry renewed last year, Dion Nesmith’s buzzer-beater gave Hofstra a one-point win, so, this was revenge for Stony Brook.
“It’s bragging rights for Long Island,” Warney said. “Last year, they had the bragging rights for the whole year. We’ve been thinking about it all summer. Now we’re just happy we’ve got the bragging rights for this year.”