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Leighton Elliott-Sewell sparks Stony Brook to victory over Hartford

Stony Brook Seawolves forward Leighton Elliott-Sewell drives to

Stony Brook Seawolves forward Leighton Elliott-Sewell drives to the basket defended by Hartford Hawks forward Hunter Marks during the second half of an NCAA America East men's basketball game at Federal Credit Arena on Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

With Hartford’s Hunter Marks standing at the line, ready to shoot three free throws with a chance to push the Hawks’ lead to nine, Stony Brook coach Geno Ford knew he needed to give his team a spark.

In came junior Leighton Elliott-Sewell, who was the fifth substitution for Stony Brook in the first six minutes.

Things changed from that moment, and the Seawolves broke the game open in the second half on the way to a 63-49 America East Conference win Sunday at Island Federal Arena.

"I thought our bench was great in the first half when we needed it and that our starters looked a little lethargic," Ford said. "We were able to get some real lift off the bench."

Elliott-Sewell scored a career-high 13 points a day after not playing in a loss to Hartford.

"We didn’t play him yesterday, but we knew we needed somebody that could guard the ball and we knew he could do that," Ford said. "The guys we played, hoping they would make shots, made no shots, so we decided we were going to give Leighton a couple of lengthy runs today."

"It’s really not worrying about my minutes but just trying to win the game," Elliott-Sewell said. "I was getting the ball in spots where I could score it and I was cutting and getting good passes from my teammates."

Stony Brook (8-8, 6-4) opened a 46-32 lead with 13:32 remaining on a three-pointer by Frankie Policelli (16 points), who also came off the bench. But Hartford (10-7, 7-5) went on an 8-0 run and was threatening to get even closer before Mouhamadou Gueye blocked a shot to help spark a 10-1 Seawolves run.

"It could have went one of two ways — either we pushed through or we just hung in there, and the next thing you know, we end up in the same situation as yesterday," Gueye said. "It was just about making plays that we needed to try to win at all costs."

SBU women win. India Pagan had 19 points and six rebounds and Asiah Dingle had 12 points and six assiststo lead the Stony Brook women (10-4, 8-2) to a 62-49 victory over host Hartford. The weekend sweep of the Hawks (3-9, 3-9) extended Stony Brook’s winning streak to five games.

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