Playing without second-leading scorer Anthony Jackson, who was serving the second of a three-game suspension for a violation of team rules, Stony Brook relied on the leadership of seniors Dave Coley and Eric McAlister and the inside presence of Jameel Warney to hammer Binghamton, 67-47, last night at Pritchard Gym.
Coley scored a game-high 20 points and added six rebounds and four assists, McAlister finished with 15 points, six rebounds and three blocks, and Warney had 13 points and nine rebounds as the Seawolves improved to 11-6 and 3-0 in America East play. SBU dominated the boards 38-20 and outscored the Bearcats 28-10 in the paint while shooting 47.7 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from three-point range.
Speaking of Jackson's suspension, Coley said, "It eliminates another voice, so I've got to be louder for the team and try to be a better leader."
Coach Steve Pikiell said Coley has done just that. "Dave has been real good with his leadership on the court and in practice," Pikiell said. "He and Jameel are stepping it up."
In the early going, it seemed as though the Seawolves were facing Syracuse's 2-3 zone, not lowly Binghamton's. The Bearcats (4-13, 1-3) forced nine first-half turnovers, converting them into 13 points, and took an 18-17 lead on a three-point play by Marlon Beck.
But Carson Puriefoy III ignited a 14-0 Seawolves run with a jumper and capped it with a left-wing three for a 31-18 lead. SBU increased the advantage to 37-23 at halftime, shooting 50 percent from the field.
Stony Brook freshman Ahmad Walker held Binghamton's leading scorer, Jordan Reed, scoreless in nine first-half minutes in which he shot 0-for-4. Reed didn't play in the second half, and Bearcats coach Tommy Dempsey only would say, "It was a coach's decision," and indicated he wasn't satisfied with the effort. Yosef Yacob led BU with 14 points.
"Ahmad Walker stepped up and took the challenge," Pikiell said. "He's big, and he muscles guys. We did a great job on Reed and kept him out of the lane."
After halftime, Coley scored nine points in a 14-6 Seawolves run that pushed their lead to 51-29. Binghamton cut its deficit to 17 points, but Stony Brook put the game away with a series of four straight dunks, including three by Warney, for a 62-39 lead. The fourth dunk was by McAlister when he stole the ball and took it the distance.
"When we play inside-out and make shots, the defense opens up," Coley said. "We have two great low-post players, two leapers."
Warney begged to differ, saying, "I'm not a leaper."
He also credited the outside shooting of Coley and freshman Chris Braley, who hit two threes, with helping to open up the inside for lobs over the top. "Dave and the guards were making jump shots, and that made the 2-3 zone play higher," Warney explained. "I got in behind them. Maybe they didn't see me. I got great passes from Dave, Trey [Puriefoy] and Eric."