Stony Brook's Bryan Dougher drives around Hartford's Andres Torres in...

Stony Brook's Bryan Dougher drives around Hartford's Andres Torres in the first half. Stony Brook defeated Hartford 60-37. (Jan. 25, 2012) Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

With Boston University coming to town tomorrow night -- for a sold-out game to be broadcast on ESPNU -- Stony Brook might have glanced past struggling Hartford.

There were moments in the first half Wednesday night when the "trap game" cliché looked to be applicable. But the Seawolves shot well enough in the second half to breeze past the Hawks, 60-37, at Pritchard Gym.

Stony Brook (12-7) improved to 7-1 in the America East, its best conference start. It has won three straight and is rolling just in time for its anticipated matchup with BU, with which it is tied for first.

Bryan Dougher scored a season-high 23 points (including five threes) to make up for a shaky first half in which Stony Brook scored only 24 points and committed 10 turnovers. The Seawolves made 14 of 22 from the field in the second half.

"We held them to 18 in the first half, that's a good number, but 24 points is a little low," Dougher said. "We had way too many turnovers. We needed to fix a couple things on the offensive end."

But the defense is why Stony Brook keeps winning. Entering Wednesday night , the team was 15th in the nation in scoring defense (60.7 points per game) and led the America East in rebounding margin and turnover margin.

The constant perimeter activity and strong presence in the paint smothered the undersized Hawks. Hartford (4-16, 4-4) shot only 31 percent from the field, committed 16 turnovers and was outrebounded by 16.

"If we play defense like we did tonight, as we have been, we'll be fine," coach Steve Pikiell said.

The Seawolves have not allowed more than 60 points for three consecutive games. Hartford's 37 were the fewest by a Stony Brook opponent since the Hawks scored 35 in a loss here last January.

"We really hang our hat on the defensive end," Dougher said. "Our goal is to keep their score low and our offense will take care of itself."

After Hartford went scoreless for the game's first five minutes, the Hawks seemed to build some momentum heading into halftime. Back-to-back Dougher three-pointers quickly settled that. The Seawolves jumped out on an 18-7 run that effectively put the game away.

Stony Brook center Dallis Joyner had nine rebounds and three blocks. "I knew I just wanted to hit the boards no matter what," he said.

After avoiding the upset, the stage is set for Friday's's game, which has been circled for a while.

"It'll be a challenge," Pikiell said. "They have the best team in the league until someone proves differently."

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