Jameel Warney spent the early afternoon on Sunday knocking on the door of an exclusive club. At about 3:35 p.m., it opened and he stepped inside.
After Kam Mitchell extended a Stony Brook possession by coming up with a loose ball following his own missed jumper, Lucas Woodhouse threw a lob down low to Warney. From a spot on the floor where he’s virtually unstoppable, he used the rim as protection and hit a reverse layup with 7:18 remaining in the Seawolves’ 75-56 victory over Maine in Bangor.
The victory clinched the America East regular-season title for Stony Brook and the basket gave Warney 2,001 points. That enabled him to join Boston University’s Tunji Awojobi, who had 2,308 points and 1,237 rebounds from 1993-97, and Drexel’s Malik Rose, who had 2,024 points and 1,514 rebounds from 1992-96, as players who have scored at least 2,000 points and pulled down at least 1,000 rebounds during the 37 seasons of ECAC North/North Atlantic Conference/America East play.
“There’s a lot of people who’ve put me in a position to succeed,’’ Warney said in a news release provided by the university. “My coaches, teammates, the community. Not many players get to 2,000 points, let alone 1,000 rebounds, too. It just shows how far you can go with hard work.’’
Warney, who has 2,005 points and 1,206 rebounds, became the 110th player in Division I history in the 2,000 points/1,000 rebounds club.
“Jameel’s a great kid,’’ coach Steve Pikiell said in the release. “He’s grown so much as a person and his best basketball is ahead of him. He brings a different dimension from the post. So few big men want to play with their back to the basket. It’s refreshing for me. Everyone plays Jameel so differently, so sometimes it takes time for him to figure out some things.’’
Probably more important to Warney, the victory gave Stony Brook (23-5, 14-1) home-court advantage throughout the conference tournament. “I was a part of the team the last time we won a regular-season championship,’’ he said. “Not winning it as a sophomore and junior really humbled me.’’
“It feels great to win a league title, but the journey’s not over,’’ Rayshaun McGrew said. “We’ve got to stick together and play within our system.’’
Needing 15 points to reach 2000, Warney had eight points and seven rebounds in the first half, and three dunks in the first 12 minutes of the second half brought him within a point. He wound up shooting 9-for-12 and finished with 20 points, nine rebounds, three blocked shots and two steals. McGrew (eight rebounds) and Carson Puriefoy added 14 points each and Ahmad Walker had nine points, nine rebounds and four assists.
Stony Brook played its first game without reserve Bryan Sekunda, who suffered a season-ending knee injury Wednesday night against Albany.
Till Gloger and Aaron Calixte had 11 points each and Ilija Stojiljkovic added 10 for Maine (8-19, 4-10), which was held to 22 points in the second half. Issac Vann, averaging 15.2 points entering the game, shot 3-for-12 and scored six points before fouling out. Devine Eke, who entered averaging 10 points, had three.
‘’Their program is at a championship level and hopefully it’s a lesson for us in what it takes,’’ Maine coach Bob Walsh said in a postgame interview provided online by the conference. “You know, the toughness, the talent, the coaching, the commitment, the whole thing. We’ve got a lot of growing to do as a team and I’m really impressed with what Stony Brook does. There’s a reason why they’re the best team in the league and they’re the No. 1 seed. Their investment level, their commitment, their identity, their toughness, all the stuff that you need to do to be at a championship level, they do. So hopefully it’s something we can learn from as we grow as a program.’’
— GREG GUTES