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Stony Brook bench plays vital role

Stony Brook guard Anthony Jackson looks to pass

Stony Brook guard Anthony Jackson looks to pass during a game against Binghamton in the NCAA Division I men's basketball game. (Feb. 1, 2012) Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

You can't read much into a victory over one of the worst teams in the country, but Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell was heartened by the performance of his bench and his three-point shooters in the Seawolves' 82-48 victory over winless Binghamton Wednesday night at Pritchard Gym. Those same elements will be vital ingredients for SBU at conference tournament time in little more than a month.

True to his principles, Pikiell was most pleased with his defense, which held the Bearcats (0-22, 0-10 America East) to 15 points in the first half on 28.6 percent shooting. But there was no denying the importance of a school-record 14 three-pointers on 26 attempts. Six Seawolves nailed threes, including Anthony Jackson (4-8, pictured), Bryan Dougher (3-5), Danny Carter, (2-2), Dave Coley (2-3), Leonard Hayes (2-5) and Marcus Rouse (1-2).

"Those guys are good shooters," Pikiell said. "Anthony Jackson leads the league in field-goal percentage from three, and he's good in practice, too. It was nice to see Lenny make a couple."

Stony Brook relies on defense and rebounding as the bedrock of its game, and Pikiell always says he doesn't worry about points because he knows they will come. But if the Seawolves can shoot remotely similar to the way they did against Binghamton in tournament games, that combination of ingredients might get them to their first NCAA Tournament berth.

"It's a huge difference," Pikiell said of the three-point weapon. "It's a huge difference when the ball is going in."

Even if the Seawolves aren't hitting from three, they know they have a balanced attack that allows them to go far deeper into the bench than most America East teams. So, an easy win against Binghamton also provided plenty of minutes for the backups, and the rest might help the starters as they head into a stretch in which SBU plays five of the next six on the road, including the ESPN bracketbuster at Northeastern.

"The bench has been good all year," Pikiell said. "It was nice to reward the guys. They work their tails off. That unit plays together all the time in practice, and they took advantage of their minutes."

Even walk-on Ben Resner got a piece of the action when he came in and hit his only shot with 1:19 left. So, a good time was had by all the Seawolves who now head to Albany Saturday night for a game that figures to be a whole lot tougher.
 

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