After going 18 days between games, the Stony Brook men’s basketball team finally returned to action on Saturday afternoon.
But what began as a promising first 30 minutes rapidly devolved in the final 10, as the Seawolves took their first loss in America East play, 81-64, to New Hampshire at Island Federal Credit Union Arena.
"I thought the second half was clearly a disaster," second-year coach Geno Ford said. "I think that’s obvious. The first half we played well. We got a 10-point lead and had a couple of bad plays in the last segment and the lead shrunk …The game had kind of changed from there."
Stony Brook (6-5, 4-1) had last competed on Dec. 28 against UMass Lowell, winning its fifth consecutive game to overcome a 1-4 start. The Seawolves then went on a two-week pause after learning that a member of the program had tested positive for COVID-19 and returned to practice earlier in the week.
"I think there were a couple of concerns coming into today," Ford said. "For me, there were three. The cardio piece, the game-legs piece — having some pop to make jumpers and free throws late — and there’s the mental toughness piece, being able to concentrate for the full 40 minutes.
"I don’t know that we looked winded; we did not have very good timing. Our offense was in slow motion, like running through mud. Which, when you don’t play in a while, it’s tough. We certainly had some unique, challenging lineups and some combinations in the game that had not seen action on the entire season. So in some ways, it kind of felt like a season opener."
Leading 34-29 at the half, Stony Brook maintained its five-point edge with 10:49 remaining until UNH (5-5, 4-3) manufactured a furious 22-5 run, giving the Wildcats a 70-58 advantage with 4:24 to go. Qon Murphy, who led UNH with 24 points, capped off the spurt with his fourth three-pointer of the contest.
Frank Policelli and Mouhamadou Gueye led the Seawolves in scoring with 12 points apiece.
Ford said it was certainly frustrating for the program to go on pause after ripping off five straight wins.
"There was [a sense of frustration] … When you’re winning, you don’t ever want to shut down. We had pretty good confidence and rhythm offensively, something we’re going to have to find," Ford said.
Ford said his message to the team, as they prepare to complete their series with UNH on Sunday, will predominantly revolve around locking in defensively after UNH shot 63% in the second half, compared with 33.3% in the first.
"Defensively, we’ve got to figure a couple of things out," Ford said. "When you’re not scoring, that’s when you get really tired. When you score the ball, you get a little juice to you. And a couple things we need to figure out offensively."