Stony Brook found itself in the game late, but a poor offensive performance sent the Seawolves to their third consecutive loss on Saturday afternoon.
The Seawolves shot 38.8% from the field and went 5-for-22 on three-point attempts in a 62-51 Colonial Athletic Association loss to UNCW at Island Federal Credit Union Arena.
“This team plays a style that we struggle with. They use full-court pressure, make us make plays off the dribble and drive at us on the other end,” coach Geno Ford said after his team fell to 7-13 overall and 3-4 in its first season in the CAA. “We have to play excellent to beat a team that plays that style, and obviously we weren’t excellent today.”
Maleeck Harden-Hayes had 31 points for UNCW (16-6, 6-3), hitting five three-pointers.
Tyler Stephenson-Moore, who entered the game as Stony Brook’s scoring leader at 15.3 points per game, finished with 10. He went scoreless for 17 minutes in the second half before recording his first basket of the half with 2:07 remaining.
On the next possession, Stephenson-Moore committed a blocking foul as Trazarien White attempted to put up a shot. It was his fifth foul and relegated him to the bench for the remainder of the game.
“We’re down five at that point, so I can’t say we would’ve won if it wasn’t called, but that certainly felt like the final nail in the coffin,” Ford said. “Tyler knew he had four fouls, so he was trying to avoid him, I thought the kid [White] was spinning a bit out of control.”
Harden-Hayes gave the Seawolves trouble early in the second half after a lackluster offensive showing by both teams in the first half. He connected on four consecutive three-pointers as UNCW took a 34-23 lead with just under 17 minutes remaining.
Stony Brook climbed back into the game with a 13-2 run, tying the score at 36 after back-to-back three-pointers by Kenan Sarvan and Toby Onyekonwu. Onyekonwu finished with 11 points and Sarvan had nine.
Harden-Hayes scored seven points as UNCW responded with a 13-4 run. He finished off one possession with a three-point play after the Seawolves gave up three offensive rebounds.
“We went with a box-and-one defense on Harden-Hayes, which we haven’t done all year,” Ford said. “We caught them off guard with that and they couldn’t run their offense, but we couldn’t come up with the rebounds.’’
Scoring was at a premium in the first half as UNCW took a 22-21 lead. The teams scored a combined five points in the final 7:57 of the half. UNCW went 10-for-27 from the field in the half and Stony Brook was 8-for-25.
Stony Brook did an impressive job guarding Seahawks leading scorer White, who entered the game averaging 13.7 points. They held him scoreless in the first half, limiting him to three shots, and five points for the game.
“The top of this league is so much different than the America East and the depth is much better,” Ford said. “If you don’t play well at home in this league, you have a slim chance. On the road if you don’t, you’ll get embarrassed.”