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Stony Brook men top Norfolk State, enter America East play on high note

Stony Brook guard Elijah Olaniyi drives the ball

Stony Brook guard Elijah Olaniyi drives the ball against Brown at Island Federal Credit Union Arena on Dec. 7. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The schedule was designed to be a challenge. Opponents with various styles, matchups with programs in different weight classes, dates against nationally ranked programs.

It was all part of the plan, said Stony Brook men’s basketball coach Geno Ford, the results of which will be determined over the course of America East Conference play.

“We played a lot of good teams and teams that are going to be in the postseason,” Ford said after the Seawolves finished the first half of the regular season with an 81-65 win over Norfolk State at Island Federal Arena on Sunday.

“Hopefully, it’s going to pay off for us,” Ford said. “We’re not going to find out until March because that’s the reality of our business, but I feel good right now that we haven’t had easy games.”

Stony Brook finished non-conference play with a 9-6 record. The Seawolves will open the America East Conference portion of the schedule Sunday at Maine, which was predicted to finish eighth in the preseason coaches’ poll.

Stony Brook, which led by as many as 24 points in the second half, had four players reach double figures. Elijah Olaniyi had 20, Andrew Garcia 18, Makale Foreman 16 and Miles Latimer 11.

After a somewhat sluggish start, the Seawolves took control with a 21-3 run in the final 8:30 of the first half to go into the break with a 37-17 lead. Olaniyi scored eight points in the stretch — six on layups and two on free throws — and Foreman drilled two three-pointers.

Foreman (15) and Olaniyi totaled 27 of Stony Brook’s 37 first-half points.

“Normally [opposing defenses] want to focus on those two players and take away what they got, so it kind of [opens up] for me,” said Garcia, who scored 15 in the second half. “I let the game come to me. Those two guys are [two of our best] scorers and they contribute a lot. Teams scout for both of them, so when they get hot, it’s [normal] for them to get double-teamed or more pressured.”

Joe Bryant Jr. led the Spartans (4-11) with 18 points. Jermaine Bishop scored 17 and Steven Whitley had 14.

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