Stony Brook squared off against Farmingdale State on Monday night at Island Federal Credit Union Arena. The Seawolves were playing a game that counted. The Rams were not.
As a Division III school playing up against a D-I, Farmingdale State could choose to make this a preseason exhibition game. It did. For Stony Brook, this was game three.
For both teams, though, the purpose of the clash was the same. These early days and nights are about trying to get ready for the conference schedule — the Seawolves in the America East and the Rams in the Skyline.
It didn’t take a college basketball expert to predict which team was going to come out on the winning side. Elijah Olaniyi scored 21 points and Andrew Garcia had 14 as Stony Brook earned a 91-44 victory, its first of the season.
“We were more comfortable tonight and we were able to play at the pace we wanted in the half-court,” coach Geno Ford said. “ . . . The argument is, we’ll be much better in January and February than we are in November. Now, there’s a level of frustration in November at times, but we’ve just got to play our way through it.”
Farmingdale won 20 games last season and claimed the Skyline regular-season and tournament titles along with an invite to the NCAA Division III Tournament. “I think we can compete for another [conference] championship,” Rams coach Brendan Twomey said.
Stony Brook won 24 games a season ago and went to the CBI.
After losing to Yale and Seton Hall to start this season, Ford was most happy about the team’s 20 assists in Monday’s game. He also wants better bench production. Freshman guard Tavin Pierre Philippe (Baldwin) showed improvement with 11 points.
“The first two games, I struggled a little bit,” he said. “But tonight I felt more comfortable.”
Hunter Schenkel, who scored 12 points to pace the Rams, hit his second three-pointer to put Farmingdale ahead 8-7. But Philippe sank a three from the right side and Olaniyi and Miles Latimer each nailed a three in a 17-2 run as the Seawolves went ahead 24-10.
The Rams cut it to eight at 28-20 when Zac Goldstein hit a baseline jumper. Garcia countered by putting back an offensive rebound, kicking off a 22-4 Stony Brook run for a 50-24 halftime lead. Olaniyi stood out in that final Seawolves burst, scoring nine of the points in a 1:52 span.
“I didn’t feel like I started the game the way I wanted to,” he said. “It was just responding after the coaches talked to me.”
Stony Brook led by as many as 49 points.
“It’s a great experience for our guys to play a Division I team,” Twomey said. “Their size, their athleticism and their strength, their skill, is obviously tough to match.”