Senior forward Tommy Brenton usually fills the basketball boxscore in columns other than points. That does not mean Stony Brook's most important player cannot put the ball in the basket. All you have to do is ask him to do it.
With second-leading scorer Anthony Jackson forced to sit out Saturday's game against Hartford with a sprained left ankle, Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell told Brenton, among others, that the offense would need an infusion of points.
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Brenton was listening. He scored 13 of his 16 points as the Seawolves built a 19-point halftime lead that was extended to 29 in an eventual 73-59 win. Stony Brook (12-4, 3-0) took over first place in the America East, dropping Hartford to 10-7, 3-1.
Brenton was all over the floor in the opening half, scoring on all five of his field-goal attempts and adding five rebounds, three assists and three steals. He converted two of those steals into a fast-break dunk and an acrobatic fast-break layup that he turned into a three-point play.
The 6-5 Brenton, whose favorite move is driving to the basket, double-pumping while hanging in the air and drawing the foul, clearly was more offensive-minded than usual.
"I really don't care about points,'' he said after recording 10 rebounds and four assists (and eight turnovers). "I'll score one or 15. More importantly, I'm about the chemistry of the game, just the flow, making sure the whole team is doing what they're doing. We have scorers. As long as we have a good flow going, I'm really not caring too much about the points.''
Brenton entered the game averaging 7.1 points. Said Pikiell, "Tommy's one of the most unique players around; that's why I say he could play at any school in the country. The great part of him is, he's unselfish. Everyone's about points from AAU to high school. It's points, points, points. He's about winning. He feels great when he gets 11 rebounds and six assists. This kid is going to end his career here leading us in steals, assists, rebounds. He's going to be a 1,000-point scorer [he has 817], lead us in field- goal percentage, and he's the [reigning] defensive player of the year in the league. He leads us in charges, loose balls.''
Brenton had plenty of help. Freshman Jameel Warney had 17 points, Dave Coley added 16 points, nine rebounds and two blocks, and freshman Carson Puriefoy, who started at point guard in place of Jackson, had 15 points.
But Brenton set the pace. "That's great energy,'' Coley said. "When you see our leader doing stuff like that, that gets everybody else involved and want to do what he does because he's so good at it. He brings the intensity; we match it as well.''
Warney's three-point play gave Stony Brook a 63-34 lead with 7:42 left. Hartford, which lives and dies by the three-point field goal, was held to 8-for-30 shooting from beyond the arc. Warney controlled 6-6 Mark Nwakamma, who was 5-for-15, and had two of Stony Brook's seven blocked shots.
"It was a huge game,'' Coley said. "First and foremost, you want to protect home court. They were 3-0. We wanted to come out in first place.''