Jameel Warney has gone from Stony Brook legend to one of the Texas Legends in the D-League. The happy March memories from that first America East title and first NCAA Tournament entry pass last season are reflected only in two of the banners hanging above the bleachers at Island FCU Arena.
Creating happy new memories hadn’t been coming easily. The Seawolves dropped five of their first six, including the most recent game by a point on a buzzer-beating layup by Loyola.
Now Northeastern was looking to drive home another stake lSaturday night. Jeremy Miller’s three-pointer soared toward the basket, and it would be good for a buzzer-beating one-point win for the Huskies if it went in.
“Please don’t go in,” new coach Jeff Boals said he was thinking to himself. “Please don’t go in.”
It didn’t go in. Stony Brook took home a confidence-boosting 77-75 win behind Lucas Woodhouse’s clutch work, capped by two free throws that broke a tie at 75 with 8.2 seconds left. The senior guard finished with 17 points, 11 in the final 4:33, including 8-for-8 from the line in the final 1:38.
“It’s been rough, but we know you don’t win championships now; you win them in March,” Woodhouse said. “So we’re just trying to get better every day.”
Four leading men plus coach Steve Pikiell are gone, but Boals’ goal remains the same.
“From day one, my goal wasn’t to be 2-5 or 7-0,” the former Ohio State assistant said. “It was to be better today than we were yesterday. Our goal is to win the America East championship, which we can still do, and go to the NCAA Tournament. So obviously, winning a game like this will be a big building block for us.”
With the Seawolves clinging to a 68-66 lead, Woodhouse drove, was fouled and nailed both free throws. But Alex Murphy countered with a three-point play to get it down to one.
So Woodhouse drove again, was fouled and made both free throws for a 72-69 advantage with a minute left.
“I just knew I had to be aggressive,” Woodhouse said.
Max Boursiquot countered with two free throws to cut it to one.
Roland Nyama (15 points) hit one of two free throws to make it 73-71. Then T.J. Williams, who contributed 20 points for the Huskies but missed six of his 11 free throws, made one of two.
Woodhouse hit two free throws for a 75-72 lead, but Murphy delivered another three-point play to tie it with 8.2 seconds left. Then Williams fouled Woodhouse before the Seawolves could inbound, and that proved to be the difference.
“They’re only in the beginning stages,” Northeastern coach Bill Coen said. “But you can already see the buy-in, the effort and the intensity that the kids play with.”
Stony Brook showed that with a 25-3 run in the first half that created a 25-10 cushion.
“Once we settle in and shots start to fall, I feel like we can play with anybody,” junior forward Tyrell Sturdivant said after a 12-point, six-rebound game.
The Huskies moved within 37-33 at halftime, but Bryan Sekunda tossed in three three-pointers to power a 16-2 run that put Stony Brook up 61-52. Then Northeastern (4-4) made the Seawolves sweat.
“Give credit to our guys,” Boals said. “They had multiple chances where they could’ve broke, but they bent and didn’t break.”