Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell called the Seawolves' 70-59 victory over Hartford last night at Pritchard Gymnasium "a tale of two halves." That was an understatement.
Hartford arrived with a nine-game losing streak, but Joe Zeglinski (22 points, seven rebounds) hit two three-pointers in a 17-6 run to end the first half and give the Hawks a surprising 23-20 lead. During that stretch, the Seawolves were 3-for-12 from the floor and committed six of their 11 first-half turnovers.
But the stat that stood out most to Pikiell was that his team had only two free throws.
So besides calling on his players to turn up the intensity at the defensive end, Pikiell said he changed the offensive sequence to send his guys to the basket.
"We went to a weave and got into an attack mode," Pikiell said.
And that paid off with a 50-point second half for Stony Brook (10-5, 2-0 America East). Bryan Dougher finished with 26 points, shooting 5-for-7 on three-pointers, and Muhammad El-Amin had 20 points, shooting 11-for-12 from the free-throw line).
Dougher has scored 56 points in his past two games, including 30 in a win at Boston University, and shot 13-for-17 from three-point range.
"It's just extra reps in practice and getting in a rhythm," he said of his hot shooting hand. "It feels like everything is going in."
On the first possession of the second half, El-Amin drove, was fouled and made two free throws. After a Hartford turnover, Dougher hit a three-pointer to give Stony Brook a 25-23 lead, and the Seawolves were off to the races. They put together a 17-0 run to open the half, including eight points from Dougher, to take a 37-23 lead.
By the time Zeglinski finally got two foul shots to go down, a total of 10:23 had elapsed since Hartford's last basket of the first half. The Hawks (2-12, 0-1 America East) were 0-for-10 with seven turnovers in that span and never recovered.
Even more pleasing than the 50-point second half to Pikiell was that the Seawolves got to the line for 38 foul shots to finish 29-for-40 on free throws.
Hartford's frustration showed in the final minutes as Morgan Sabia picked up his second technical foul and was ejected, and Stony Brook's Tommy Brenton received a technical after a hard foul. The Seawolves' Chris Martin (11 points) also had some heated exchanges with Zeglinski.
Said El-Amin, "Coach said we have to keep our composure instead of getting careless fouls and a lot of technicals."