After weeks of playing some of the top programs in all of college basketball, Stony Brook had a reprieve Wednesday evening.
The Seawolves hosted Shawnee State, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) school, in men’s basketball action at Island Federal Credit Union Arena and dominated from start to finish, resulting in a 101-58 victory.
Stony Brook (2-5) scored 17 of the game’s first 18 points, keeping the Bears off the scoreboard for the first three minutes, 13 seconds and without a field goal for the opening 6:40. Utilizing a pressure defense, the Seawolves forced six steals and eight turnovers in that span.
The Seawolves shot 54.7 percent from the field, including 67.9 percent in the first half and converting 8 of 11 from beyond the arc to take a 60-31 advantage after the opening 20 minutes.
And nobody was more productive than Bryan Sekunda during that first half. The senior, who had all 21 of his points in the opening period, including an emphatic finish by hitting his sixth three-pointer of the period in the waning seconds to take the Seawolves to the locker room.
“It feels great, it feels like everything you throw up is going to go in so when guys are finding you, it’s the best feeling in the world,” Sekunda said.
Sekunda, who missed the end of the 2015-16 season with a torn ACL, spent less than four minutes to open the second half on the bench before returning to the court, providing a spark after hitting only 8 of 23 from beyond the arc to open the season.
“Bryan’s a great shooter, any time he shoots, you feel like it’s going to go in,” coach Jeff Boals said.
Stony Brook held Shawnee State (5-2) to just 32.8 percent from the field, including 27.3 in the first half, and forced 14 turnovers compared with nine made field goals in the first half. All 13 active Stony Brook players took the court, with 12 scoring points.
The Seawolves came out nearly as strong in the second half, opening a 22-8 run in the first 12 minutes.
Stony Brook had five players finish with double-digit points, with Elijah Olaniyi adding 16 points, Junior Saintel with 12 points and 11 rebounds and Jaron Cornish facilitating much of the offense with eight assists. Jordan McKenzie took over in the second half, hitting three-straight three-pointers late in the second half and finished with 16 points.
“I think it was really important,” McKenzie said. “With some of the teams that are not like the ones we usually play, it’s important to get out quick so we can keep that pace going the entire game but if we allow them to get going a little bit, it makes that tougher for us for the rest of the game.
“We’re 1-5 so we’re not taking anything for granted, we really needed some confidence going in. We needed a win.”
After the Seawolves’ five losses this season have come to Maryland, UConn, Michigan State, Bucknell and Ball State — with a combined 103 NCAA Tournament appearances — Stony Brook’s capitalized on a fast start Wednesday night to never trail Shawnee State and improve to 2-1 at home.