Elijah Olaniyi of the Stony Brook Seawolves goes to the...

Elijah Olaniyi of the Stony Brook Seawolves goes to the hoop for a basket against Ata Turgut of the Maine Black Bears during the first half at Island Federal Arena on Saturday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

When Elijah Olaniyi came back to the Stony Brook men’s basketball program after a season with Miami, he said he did it because he had unfinished business. He led the Seawolves in scoring two seasons ago and proved he could play in the ACC a season later, but that elusive America East championship remained uncrossed on his to-do list.

So he packed his bags for Long Island and returned to a new team with a slew of transfers that was projected in the preseason to win the conference title. And then he got hurt.

"Nothing goes according to plan," he said. "You can’t control anything, so I controlled my controllables."

And Saturday, that paid off. Olaniyi, a fifth-year graduate student, made his return to Island Federal Credit Union Arena and, after two months off, looked as if he didn’t miss a step, leading the Seawolves to an 80-72 win over Maine in their conference opener.

The Seawolves led by as many as 21 midway through the second half, but their defense wobbled under the Black Bears’ continued pressure and Maine drew within five with 1:06 to go. Olaniyi’s steal and his thunderous block on the next two possessions stemmed the tide and Juan Felix Rodriguez and Jahlil Jenkins each hit two free throws to push the lead to nine with 22 seconds left.

Olaniyi scored 16 points off the bench, matching a team high, in his first game since Nov. 22. The Seawolves had five players score in double digits, including Tykei Greene (16 points) and Anthony Roberts (15). Maine’s Sam Ihekwoaba had 22 points.

"Adding Elijah gives us a significant uptick because it’s a really good player we’re adding," coach Geno Ford said. "We knew he was ready to play, but there’s still game conditioning . . . Obviously, the final blocked shot to seal the game, he looked more than fine on that play. He made winning plays."

The Seawolves (9-5, 1-0) thoroughly dismantled Maine in the latter part of the first half, breaking a tie at 17 and going on a 14-0 run that was highlighted by Frankie Policelli’s three-pointer with 6:03 left.

"My teammates and coaches have been telling me to shoot more and be more aggressive," Policelli said. "I kind of made a point that if I see a little bit of space, I’m going to get it up."

Nearly everything clicked for the Seawolves in the first half. They led by as many as 18 points, their perimeter defense held the Black Bears to 0-for-11 shooting from three-point range, and they scored 13 points off Maine’s seven turnovers, allowing no points on the three turnovers they committed.

However, with 8:42 left in the first half, Roberts made contact with a Maine player while going after a loose ball and went down hard, clutching his right knee. Roberts, who could put no weight on the knee and had to be helped off the court, was able to return and hit a three-pointer early in the second half.

Maine’s Adefolalrin Adetogun elbowed Omar Habwe in the face and was hit with a flagrant foul and ejected with 1:30 left in the first half, leading to temperatures rising on the court.

Policelli scored eight of his 14 points during the key 14-0 run.

"We can be very, very good," he said. "We have so many weapons,

but we’ve got to be able to play off each other and feed off each other and play the right way. We’re still trying to figure that out."

Consider Saturday step one.

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