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Stony Brook’s bench provides spark for first win of season

Stony Brook guard Michael Almonacy moves the ball up

Stony Brook guard Michael Almonacy moves the ball up court during a game against Brown at Island Federal Credit Union Arena on Nov. 22, 2017. Credit: Daniel De Mato

Mike Almonacy was proud to assess the play of the Stony Brook men’s basketball team’s bench, a unit which he spearheaded during the Seawolves’ home opener at Island Federal Credit Union Arena on Wednesday night against Brown.

Almonacy, Jaron Cornish, Elijah Olaniyi and Bryan Sekunda played significant minutes in the second half, sparking Stony Brook’s first win of the season, a 77-64 triumph.

The Seawolves started 0-4 after a rough four-game road trip which ended with a 93-71 loss to No. 2 Michigan State on Sunday night.

“We just come out with energy every game,” said Almonacy, a sophomore who starred at Brentwood High School. “That’s what we did today, and we did it to a 10 out of 10 level.”

The bench orchestrated a key 10-0 run midway through the second half which started with the Seawolves down 51-50 with 10:33 remaining.

Almonacy hit a layup in traffic to start it, and Cornish capped the spurt with a layup and then two free throws on the next possession. Stony Brook led 60-51 with 8:15 left and didn’t let Brown come within five points from there.

“I thought our bench was phenomenal,” said head coach Jeff Boals. “They came in and gave us great energy, gave us a spark. That’s one of the strengths of our team is our depth.”

Almonacy had 13 points and six rebounds, Olaniyi had 11 points and Sekunda had 10. Cornish had four points and two assists.

“We know other teams don’t have 14 guys who can impact the game,” said UC Iroegbu, who played a team-high 32 minutes. “Any guy on our team can step up and be a difference maker at any point. Our bench is what’s keeping us alive right now.”

Iroegbu (14 points) and Akwasi Yeboah (13) played well on both ends, providing offense and making stops at times when Stony Brook struggled to do both. Part of the struggles came down to rebounding, which finished 43-38 in favor of Brown (2-2).

The defense focused on Brown’s Brandon Anderson, who entered play scoring 21.7 points per game. A group effort by the Seawolves’ guards held him to five points at halftime and 12 on the night.

Forcing Brown into bad shots late allowed Stony Brook to run in transition, and Almonacy iced the game with six straight free throws in the final two minutes.

Said Iroegbu: “It’s always nice to get that first win and get that weight off your shoulders, that monkey off your back a little bit.”

SBU women move to 4-0

Jonae Cox scored 14 points to help the host Stony Brook women defeat Farmingdale State, 76-25, on Wednesday in non-conference play. Head coach Caroline McCombs registered her 50th career win at Stony Brook and the Seawolves improved to 4-0 to start the season for the first time since 1997. Aaliyah Worley added 13 points and Cheyenne Clark made nine rebounds and chipped in eight points.

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