MUNCIE, Ind. — After kicking off its season with two hard-fought losses against major college basketball programs in Maryland and UConn, Stony Brook was eager to secure its first victory when it arrived here to play Ball State.
But the Seawolves will have to wait at least a few more days for that first victory. In a game that was there for them to win, they faltered down the stretch Friday night in an 87-76 non-conference loss to the Cardinals at Worthen Arena.
Ball State went on a 22-8 run during a nearly eight-minute stretch late in the second half as Stony Brook watched its two-point lead turn into a 81-69 deficit with 1:50 left.
The Cardinals’ Tayler Persons scored 19 of his 29 points in the second half. U.C. Iroegbu had a career-high 18 points and Junior Saintel added a career-high 16 points along with 10 rebounds for Stony Brook.
“We knew coming into the game they were 0-2 and we were 0-2 and we talked about how the team that had the most intensity, energy and the most heart was going to win,” Stony Brook coach Jeff Boals said.
For a while, Stony Brook was the best team on the floor, leading for the majority of the first 30 minutes. The Seawolves shot 15-for-28 in the first half, including 8-for-15 from three-point range. But Stony Brook shot 9-for-29 in the second half, including 2-for-12 from outside the arc. Along with watching his players lose their shooting touch, Boals thought his team lost some of its edge.
“No disrespect to Ball State, but Maryland and UConn are both more talented and better teams, and we competed for 40 minutes in both those games,” Boals said.
“When shots aren’t going, you’ve got to get defensive stops,” he said. “I think that’s the most disappointing thing. No one really stepped up.”
And it won’t get easier for Stony Brook. On Sunday, the Seawolves will play at No. 2 Michigan State, which is coming off a loss to Duke — the only team ranked higher than the Spartans.