Whether he was shooting from beyond the arc, crashing the boards for a rebound or creating a play for a teammate, there was little the Stony Brook men’s basketball team could do to slow down Bucknell’s Zach Thomas on Sunday.
Thomas’ contributions were felt all over the court at Island Federal Credit Union Arena as the 6-7 senior had 38 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in Bucknell’s 85-76 non-conference win over Stony Brook.
Chasing Thomas around the court made the Seawolves’ Tyrell Sturdivant think of his experiences at practice every day guarding Akwasi Yeboah, a 6-6 forward/guard and the team’s leading scorer this season.
“He reminds me a lot of Akwasi,” Sturdivant said. “It’s hard to guard Akwasi and it’s hard to [stop] him. When you have a guy who can dribble, pass, shoot and post up, it’s just a matchup problem.”
Defending Patriot League champion Bucknell (3-4), which is favored to repeat because all five starters are back, is the third team Stony Brook (1-5) has played that made last season’s NCAA Tournament.
“When you play against really good teams, we’re not outscoring those guys,” Seawolves coach Jeff Boals said. “So at some point, we had to get a defensive mentality, and we couldn’t get over the hump.”
A 22-11 run gave Bucknell a 40-31 halftime lead, and free throws hampered the Seawolves throughout the contest. They shot only 57.1 percent (16-for-28) from the line compared with Bucknell’s 95.8 percent (23-for-24).
“It’s deflating from a team standpoint because you work so hard to get the ball and you get fouled and you think it’s going to be an easy two points or at least one,” Boals said. “And like I said, when you’re playing good teams, you can’t afford to miss those.”
Sturdivant led the Seawolves with 16 points and eight rebounds. Elijah Olaniyi shot 6-for-7 and scored 14 points off the bench. UC Iroegbu added nine points and Yeboah was held to six. He played only 16 minutes because of early foul trouble.
The Seawolves shot better from the field than the Bison (45.6 to 41.7 percent), but the free-throw difference proved important.
“I told our guys we’ll be in this position again and we just got to learn from it,” Boals said. “But at some point, we’ve got to win these games.”
Stony Brook women 5-0. The Stony Brook women’s basketball team improved to 5-0 by defeating Wagner, 69-50, in the second game of the doubleheader. Cheyenne Clark led the Seawolves with 15 points and 12 rebounds and Shania Johnson had 14 points and six rebounds. Stony Brook shot 47.3 percent.