Andrew Garcia scored his only points of the game when the Stony Brook men’s basketball team needed them the most.
Garcia converted on a putback and added two free throws in the final minute of play to extend a four-point lead to eight as Stony Brook held off a furious Quinnipiac comeback attempt for a 71-61 non-conference victory before a crowd of 3,123 at Island Federal Arena.
Quinnipiac, which trailed by as many as 20, got as close as two with 2:48 left, before Miles Latimer drove the lane and hit a short jumper and Akwasi Yeboah added a driving layup to push the lead to 65-59 with 1:21 left.
“All season, we talk about bend but don’t break and we know it’s a game of runs,” Stony Brook coach Jeff Boals said. “Our guys don’t panic.”
Quinnipiac made it interesting behind the play of Cameron Young, who led all scorers with 29 points. The Seawolves had no answer for Young, who continually drove the paint and scored.
“Coach said they were going to crank up their pressure after the half and we kind of fed into it and didn’t take care of the ball,” said Yeboah, who led Stony Brook with 19 points. “But we were able to settle it down and mediate the whole thing when it mattered most.”
It was the fifth straight win for Stony Brook, which is off to its best start in school history at 7-1. Quinnipiac fell to 2-4.
Latimer, who had a season-high 14 points, came up with pivotal defensive stops and buckets when the Seawolves needed it. Stony Brook held the Bobcats to 2-for-18 from three-point range.
“We tried to contain Young as much as we could,” Latimer said. “And force other guys to make shots.”
Stony Brook shot a sizzling 9-for-15 from three-point range in a first half that featured a 16-2 run that opened a 24-6 lead. Elijah Olaniyi, Yeboah hit consecutive threes to help open the large lead with 11:13 left in the half.
The Seawolves' defense didn’t allow consecutive buckets for the first 12:31 before the Bobcats' offense found its rhythm and was able to stitch together a 9-0 run to get back in the game.
Stony Brook responded with a barrage of three-pointers by Jaron Cornish, Latimer and Yeboah on the way to a 37-17 lead with 4:24 left in the half. The combination of hot shooting and taking care of the ball (only three first-half turnovers) helped open the big lead.
Another short run by Quinnipiac made it 40-28, but Yeboah banked in a short jumper from the low block with 27 seconds left to give the Seawolves a 42-28 halftime lead.
“We hit our threes and got out in transition in the first half,” Boals said. “But the second half we tried to do too much and our pace wasn’t as good, but we made plays when we needed them.”