In a display of powerball, Stony Brook had all the winning numbers in its 86-59 victory over visiting UMass Lowell on Saturday.
Jameel Warney had his seemingly usual daily double with 13 points and 10 rebounds. The senior forward has 49 career double-doubles, though on this day the pro prospect and his teammates played supporting roles to Carson Puriefoy, who had 18 points and eight assists.
Warney dunked twice for Stony Brook’s first four points, but Puriefoy took over after that, scoring 13 points as Stony Brook built a 47-33 halftime lead. He wound up shooting 7-for-12, including 3-for-4 from outside the arc. When he sank a three-pointer on Stony Brook’s first attempt of the second half, the Seawolves were shooting 18-for-29 from the field and 8-for-10 from long range.
Rayshaun McGrew’s 14 points came on 7-for-9 shooting. Ahmad Walker had 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists in only 26 minutes. Lucas Woodhouse scored nine points and Bryan Sekunda added eight, and between them, they shot 5-for-8 from three-point range.
Stony Brook (11-4, 2-0 America East), which led by as many as 32 in the second half, shot 59.6 percent from two-point range and 56.3 percent from beyond the three-point line. UMass Lowell (5-10, 1-1) was led by Jahad Thomas’ 19 points.
It was a game Stony Brook was expected to win against a program playing its third year in Division I. Stony Brook has been in that position in its history, so nothing is taken for granted. “We shared the game, very unselfish,’’ coach Steve Pikiell said of the Seawolves’ 23 assists. “I loved the fact that everyone got open looks. A lot of it is based on six guys [defending] Jameel Warney. They played us every different defense, it didn’t matter. We shared the ball.’’
Said McGrew, “Nobody really cares about who’s scoring or who’s doing this. Everybody’s got the same goal. So if [Warney’s] playing good or [Puriefoy’s] playing good, it really doesn’t matter, because at the end of the day, if we get a win, it really doesn’t matter who played well as long as we got the job done. It’s kind of good to be around a team like this. Individual goals don’t really matter.’’
The Seawolves’ seventh straight triumph became another small step toward a much larger and thus far elusive goal: A postseason conference title, which would give Stony Brook its first NCAA Tournament berth in 17 seasons of Division I play.
Pikiell would prefer to have that journey unfold without too much of a glimpse into the future, saying, “That’s the worst mistake you can make as a team. I remind them that every day. The game in front of you is the most important because those games don’t mean anything if you don’t take care of those games. New Hampshire’s good, [defending champion] Albany’s good, Vermont’s good, UMBC’s very good. It’s a marathon. We try to make it a one-day marathon.’’
It appears as though Pikiell’s players share his philosophy. “We all know that we have a target on our backs being the preseason No. 1 pick,’’ Puriefoy said. “We all know that we have to come out every day. We’re going to get every team’s best shot, so we know that going into every game, we have to play against ourselves too. We’re our worst enemy, our greatest adversary. So every time we come out, we just play with energy, protect home court, and we’re going to have a good season if we just do that.’’
Said Warney, “I don’t think we take any games lightly. We play defense, pass the ball around. We had 23 assists. That’s great that we’re passing the ball around and getting open shots. It was a great all-around game for us.’’
NBA scouts have been at Stony Brook games to watch Warney. He has a future somewhere in pro ball, but he’s trying not to be distracted. “There’s been a ton of people to see him,’’ Pikiell said. “A ton of things going on. He kind of does a good job of focusing in . . . He’s done a real good job of not letting that clutter get in the way.’’
Warney said he is focusing on his current situation, not the future. “Right now I just play my hardest, control my own destiny,’’ he said. “Every day’s a new challenge for me. Work my hardest, be the greatest I can be that day. Keep on improving. I’m glad I have my brothers around me to help me hopefully achieve my goal of going farther.’’
Stony Brook women win. Brittany Snow scored 17 points, Davion Wingate added 15 and Elizabeth Manner had 12 on 6-for-8 shooting as the visiting Stony Brook women’s basketball team (10-5, 2-0) beat UMass Lowell, 64-50, for its sixth straight victory.