Coming off their emotional thumping of archrival Vermont on Friday night, it hardly was surprising that Stony Brook's Seawolves had a case of the blahs against lowly UMBC. But when the Retrievers pushed their lead to nine points with 9:17 left in the first half, that was too much for SBU coach Steve Pikiell to take.
Pikiell sent in Ron Bracey, who often is the 11th man in a 10-man rotation. Bracey might not be the strongest defender, but he has the ability to light an offensive spark and bring energy, and he did just that, hitting a three-pointer that brought the Seawolves roaring to life for a record-setting 83-39 victory over UMBC Tuesday night at Pritchard Gymnasium. The 44-point margin was the largest against a Division I opponent in Stony Brook history.
Bracey's three was part of a 13-0 burst that turned the game around. By halftime, Bracey had eight of his 10 points as the Seawolves (20-6, 11-2 America East) made 12 of 15 field-goal attempts in a 33-7 run that ended the half with a 47-29 lead.
"We got off to a flat start, but we played Stony Brook basketball the last 30 minutes," Pikiell said. "Ron gave us a nice lift and did a great job of giving us energy . . . Ron's a good player; but we're playing 10 guys. It's hard.
"But if Dave [Coley] wants to take the night off, Marcus Rouse is pretty good. Today, a couple guys wanted to take a day off, and Ron was good. That helps keep guys' attention. Putting them on the bench is a great weapon to have for those guys that are taking it a little bit for granted."
Neither Pikiell nor his player took a foot off the gas pedal the rest of the way. After the Retrievers (6-20, 4-9) took their early 23-14 lead on 10-for-19 shooting, Stony Brook outscored them 69-16 and held them to five field goals in their last 38 attempts, including a 3-for-28 effort in the second half.
Point guard Anthony Jackson led Stony Brook with 14 points and five assists, and the Seawolves got double-figures scoring from Jameel Warney (13), Rouse (12) and Carson Puriefoy (10) in addition to Bracey. Ten of 12 SBU players scored, and while Coley had no points, he contributed a team-high nine rebounds. Ryan Cook topped UMBC with 15 points.
Bracey, a junior college transfer, has done a remarkable job of keeping his head in the game and staying ready to play. "Just be ready to go and hit open shots," Bracey said. "It's whatever is needed for us to win."
How does he maintain such a good attitude? "The NCAA Tournament keeps me having a good attitude. We're all trying to get there. That keeps me positive."