It was just over two weeks ago that Stony Brook traveled cross-country to Washington and came from 16 points behind to beat a team then ranked No. 13 in the country. So it was a little weird that the Seawolves found themselves five points down to a 2-13 UMBC team with 9:07 left Wednesday night at Island FCU Arena.
Weirder still was the fact that leading scorer Jameel Warney had zero points and second-leading scorer Carson Puriefoy III had just seven at that stage. But that was when Stony Brook's top guns engaged, shooting the Seawolves to a 64-54 victory by totaling 14 points in a 16-3 run that put them back in the driver's seat.
"We don't need to tell each other when it's time for us to take over a game and get shots for ourselves,'' Puriefoy said. "Our teammates did a great job of making shots and getting open. Jameel did a great job of finding them. He was great. Down the stretch, we just grinded it out, played good defense and made big shots.''
Until that critical juncture in the second half, Warney was content to play point-center. Despite a scoreless first half, he dominated by passing out six assists, making two steals and blocking a shot. The Seawolves (11-7, 2-1 America East) led by 13 points before settling for a 32-24 halftime advantage.
Puriefoy, who was mired in a 6-for-42 shooting slump in his previous four games, also was not aggressive looking for his shot. Warney didn't even attempt a shot in the second half until he missed a 19-foot jumper with 13:07 to play.
But after the Retrievers (2-14, 0-3), who had only eight players available because six were suspended or injured, went on a 20-4 run to take a 46-41 lead, Stony Brook was in danger of losing four days after an emotional loss at Vermont.
That's when Warney hit a 16-foot jumper for his first points with 8:44 remaining. Puriefoy followed with a three-pointer and a layup. After two foul shots from Rayshaun McGrew (nine points, 11 rebounds), Warney scored on a three-point play, a dunk and another layup for a 57-49 Stony Brook lead.
"I started off passing, and I guess I stayed in that mode,'' Warney said of his second-half effort. "I had to get myself out of that mindset to start scoring and being more aggressive. Once I made my jump shot, I felt like it was time to score.''
Puriefoy finished with 15 points, shooting 5-for-10, and Warney just missed a triple-double, totaling nine points, 11 rebounds and a career-high eight assists. The Seawolves also got 12 points from Roland Nyama.
Asked if there was an emotional letdown following the Vermont loss, Warney said, "We can't let games go that we should win because we're dwelling on losing to Vermont in a big game.''