Tyler Stephenson-Moore of the Stony Brook Seawolves takes a shot for...

Tyler Stephenson-Moore of the Stony Brook Seawolves takes a shot for a basket early in the first half against the Towson Tigers at Island Federal Credit Arena on Saturday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The first two games in Stony Brook’s new world of CAA play went just fine. But now this basketball team had to jump in with the deeper end of the conference’s talent pool. 

Towson claimed the top rung in the CAA’s preseason poll thanks to a lot of returning talent from a 25-win team that took the regular-season title.

So this was going to be a tougher test for the Seawolves Saturday night at Island Federal Arena than Northeastern and Monmouth were, even though those first two games were on the road.

Stony Brook didn’t pass this one. Towson departed with a 67-55 win.

“It wasn’t a game that we were great, but we didn’t play that poorly,” Seawolves coach Geno Ford said. “They were really, really good and played at a really high level.”

And to think the Tigers (10-6, 2-1) were missing one of their three preseason All-CAA first-teamers, redshirt senior guard Cam Holden, due to a violation of team rules. Nicolas Timberlake, a grad guard who was also on the first-team list, topped four double-figure scorers with 20 points. 

Tyler Stephenson-Moore paced the Seawolves (6-10, 2-1) with 15 points. They fell behind, 17-12, and the senior guard out of Long Island Lutheran scored nine of the 12.

But 6-7, 245-pound senior forward Charles Thompson, Towson’s other first-teamer, was hurting them around the basket. When Thompson hit a short jumper, he had 12 points — his final tab — and the Tigers had a 30-17 lead.

It was 30-22 at the break. Towson dominated the paint in that first half, outscoring Stony Brook by a count of 18-6.

“It was the physicality today,” said Kenan Sarvan, the 6-10 junior forward who nailed four threes and scored 12 for Stony Brook. “That’s the only thing that bothered us. We weren’t ready for it.”

Then the Tigers buried five threes in the first 5:06 of the second half, capped by one from the left corner by Ryan Conway that gave them a 47-35 lead. 

Timberlake followed with a jumper, and it was a 14-point game. 

The Seawolves got it down to 49-40. But after Tanahj Pettway missed a layup that would have cut it to seven, Timberlake made a pull-up jumper and then a three. It was a 14-point game again. 

“Stony Brook is a really good addition to our conference,” Towson coach Pat Skerry said. “… [The program] will be fine.”

Even with the loss, the Seawolves have gone 4-3 after a 2-7 start.

“We can obviously play way better,” Stephenson-Moore said, “but I think from how the way we started, we’re showing a lot of people that we can compete in this league and we can be a very dominant team in this league.”

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