At halftime, the bright new video screens at Island Federal Credit Union Arena showed highlights of Stony Brook's previous game, arguably the biggest win the Seawolves ever have had. The home crowd enthusiastically applauded the recap of a stunning comeback road win against previously unbeaten, nationally ranked Washington.
Then the Seawolves came back on the court and gave what essentially was a live version.
They recovered from a five-point deficit in the second half Saturday against a determined New Hampshire, showed exceptional poise (especially from the foul line, going 21-for-23 after intermission) and opened the America East schedule with a 71-61 win.
"We've been battle-tested," said point guard Carson Puriefoy, who sat out most of the first half with foul trouble, then controlled the flow down the stretch, sinking 10 of 11 free throws during his team's 46-point second half. "I think the coaching staff does a great job preparing us for these situations and our non-conference schedule prepared us for the tough conference schedule that we always have. We just preach toughness and togetherness. That's what we did today."
It was the team's first game since its watershed last Sunday, when SBU overcame a 16-point deficit in the final 14 minutes and beat the nation's No. 13 team by five points.
"It's a blessing and a curse," said Jameel Warney, who had 22 points and 10 rebounds Saturday (having collected 15 and eight, respectively, against Washington). "We have confidence now that we feel like we can beat any team in our league . . . But it also gives us a target on our back. We were preseason No. 1 but now, since we beat an AP ranked team, teams want to give us more of their best shot."
Opponents didn't need the Washington game to notice Warney, who frequently was double-teamed Saturday. He was impressed by fellow junior Rayshaun McGrew, who had his second consecutive double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, showing enhanced range with his jump shot. "I know, with Jameel coming off being [America East] player of the year last year, I try to do a lot to take pressure off his back and make open shots so my man can't continue to go down and double-team," McGrew said.
Stony Brook (9-6) needed all of its resources down the stretch, such as nine second-half points from Kameron Mitchell, capped by a clutch three-pointer that provided a seven-point lead with 5:30 left.
Suffice it to say, the Washington win had not gone to the Seawolves' heads, but it did embolden their hearts. "It's great for our program, it's great for our morale,'' Puriefoy said. "It doesn't mean anything for the league, but we knew that we could play with the best teams in the country. We just needed everyone else to know."
McGrew added, "I feel that beating a team like Washington shows that if we play hard and play together, the sky is the limit for us."
Coach Steve Pikiell does not disagree, but he did put it in perspective: "You've got to win your next game."