For a night anyway, Stony Brook’s men’s basketball early season ills were cured, or at least mitigated. They had found the prescription, and didn’t have to look to far to find it — only about 12 miles.
A clash with Division III St. Joseph’s (LI) wasn’t much of one after a fiery Golden Eagles team was extinguished toward the end of the first half. The Seawolves won the all-Suffolk matchup, 89-48, at Island Federal Arena Tuesday night. The victory stopped a four-game losing skid for Stony Brook (2-5).
“We desperately needed a win," coach Geno Ford said. "I’m happy that we won, I was just happy with our mentality. I thought we played the right way. I thought we played hard and did what we were supposed to do. Give (St. Joseph’s) a lot of credit. We knew this would be a game for them that they were excited to play in, and they were. They got off to a great start and then we were able, as the game went on, to use our athleticism and physicality to take some harder shots.”
Stony Brook’s Tyler Stephenson-Moore led all scorers with 23 points. Frankie Policelli had 22 points and 10 rebounds and Tanahj Pettway had 13 points. Stony Brook shot 50% from the field and 44.7% from behind the arc. They won the rebounding battle 47-30.
Stony Brook led 46-33 at halftime, but not before a strong flourish from St. Joseph’s in the opening 15 minutes kept it close. Both teams shot 47% from the field in the first half, but St. Joe’s had their shooting percentage in the high 60s for the first 11 minutes.
Spencer Malloy, who led St. Joseph’s with nine first half points, hit a three and a layup on consecutive possessions to cut Stony Brook’s lead to 23-22 with 9:06 left in the first half. Then, Ryan McNeely put in a layup and sunk a 12-foot jumper to give the Golden Eagles a 26-23 lead with 7:51 left. McNeely’s three with 6:41 left extended the St. Joseph’s lead to 29-25, leading to a Stony Brook timeout.
Stony Brook exited that timeout a different team. A 12-0 run took away any momentum the upset-minded Golden Eagles had. Stony Brook opened up a 37-29 lead with 4:33 left before the half after Pettway hit two free throws.
“I think we just challenged them a little bit," Ford said. "We tried to challenge them before the game . . . (St. Joseph’s) gave us some problems early. Which was good for us, we probably needed a little adversity. In that time out we just talked about trying to refocus and I thought we weren’t getting the inside-out threes that we had kind of gotten early. I think we felt like offense was going to be a little easier. We were just talking about refocusing.”
Stony Brook is hoping that Tuesday night can be a jumping point for a season that hasn’t quite gotten off the ground. They lost both of their Thanksgiving weekend games at the Florida International Tournament, falling to the hosts, 83-50 last Wednesday and Eastern Washington, 81-52 on Friday. Prior to the early-season tournament, they had lost three of their first four games — all by at least 10 points.
St. Joseph’s lost three of their first four games before capturing a win against Union on Sunday. They host St. Elizabeth on Saturday.