Stony Brook's Muhammad El-Amin
Another game and another win for Stony Brook.
This time it wasn’t a three-point barrage as the Seawolves used a strong dose of defense to drop Hartford, 54-44, in a key road game. Muhammad El-Amin and Chris Martin had 16 points each in the win. Stony Brook improved to 16-7 and 8-2 in the America East.
As usual, Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell lauded his defense. And with good reason, the Seawolves limited Hartford to 35 percent shooting. The Hawks hit just 4 of 25 three-pointers.
“We didn’t execute as well as we could on the offensive end of the court, but our defense was outstanding all night and that’s what won us the game” Pikiell said. So what does it mean? Maine lost to Vermont, which leaves the Seawolves a game ahead of Vermont and a game and a half up on Maine.
Under normal circumstances, a team with a one-game lead in its conference at this point in the season wouldn’t warrant a lot of conversation, especially since there are still six conference games left. But this is unchartered territory for Stony Brook. Winning the America East regular-season title guarantees an NIT bid, which would be a first for Stony Brook as a Division I program.
Nothing has been decided for Stony Brook, though. The Seawolves still have home games against Maine, Binghamton and Vermont and road contests with UMBC, Albany and New Hampshire left. Three of those teams –UMBC, New Hampshire, Albany– reside at the bottom of the America East, but anything can happen in college basketball.
After a terrible month of January that saw Hofstra drop five of seven games, including five straight conference matchups, the Pride is back. Charles Jenkins had 20 points and Miklos Szabo added 12 for the Pride in a 68-48 win over James Madison. Hofstra improved to 12-2 overall and 5-7 in the CAA.
The Pride didn’t get much quantity out of its supporting cast, but it did get quality. Hofstra shot 47 percent from the field. Greg Washington, Cornelius Vines, Nathaniel Lester and Halil Kanacevic combined for 34 points, but did so on 13-for-25 shooting. But Hofstra coach Tom Pecora was most pleased with his team’s defense. James Madison shot 34 percent from the field.
“I was very proud of our defensive effort,” said head coach Tom Pecora. “[Denzel] Bowles is so tough down low on the block, and Wells is one of the best scorers in the league. But we did a good job not letting either of them get comfortable out there offensively.”
Hofstra still doesn’t have a shot of finishing in the top four of the CAA and earning a first-round bye in the conference tourney, but winning is a great confidence-builder. Hofstra has sole possession of seventh in the CAA.