Rayshaun McGrew carved out his personal niche in Stony Brook history Friday night by scoring both the first basket and the last basket of the inaugural game at 4,000-seat Island FCU Arena.
The first was a footnote but the last was anything but trivial, capping a comeback from a 16-point deficit that gave the Seawolves a 57-56 victory over a tough Columbia team in the season opener for both.
"It feels good to know those two baskets were a big part of us winning," said McGrew (14 points, eight rebounds).
For most of the game, the Seawolves seemed destined to disappoint their opening-night crowd of 4,009, falling behind 28-12 and shooting 33.3 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from three-point range in the first half. But juniors McGrew, Jameel Warney (12 points, 15 rebounds) and Carson Puriefoy III (14 points, five assists, four rebounds) led a very young team back from the brink.
Stony Brook trailed by seven points with just over six minutes left when Warney blocked a drive by the Lions' Maodo Lo (19 points). Puriefoy scored two straight baskets to cut the deficit to three, but an uncontested layup by Lo gave the Lions a 56-51 lead with 1:27 left.
Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell set up a "drift" play for freshman Bryan Sekunda, who buried an open three-pointer from the left corner on a feed from Puriefoy to pull within 56-54 at 1:16. "Bryan teed it up," Pikiell said. "You don't know until guys get in live action, but he didn't hesitate."
The ball splashed, and the crowd erupted far beyond anything heard in old 1,600-seat Pritchard Gym next door. "It was nothing like I've been a part of before because of the size of the arena and the number of people who can fit in," Puriefoy said. "The fans packed the house and brought us back."
The Lions got two shots at the other end but missed both, and McGrew was fouled with 13.1 seconds left. He made the first to get within a point and missed the second, but Warney rebounded and was fouled with 12.0 seconds showing.
Stony Brook had missed five of its previous seven foul shots, and Warney missed two more, but McGrew controlled the rebound and made the putback with seven seconds to go.
Asked if he anticipated another miss, McGrew said of Warney, who was 0-for-6 at the line, "He had a tough day. The rebound kind of came to me, and I took advantage."
Lo missed a three-pointer at the buzzer and the Seawolves celebrated their new digs with the fans. "Thank God we got the win," Warney said. "It was going to be a tough loss to swallow. We didn't want to let down our brothers, our coach or the fans."