Intent on reinforcing its position atop the America East Conference, Stony Brook clinched at least one win over each league member by beating Binghamton, 81-61, last night at a jam-packed Pritchard Gymnasium.
The Seawolves (18-7, 10-2) avenged a loss to Maine earlier in the week, and Muhammad El-Amin's career-high 31-point game helped them take care of the only other team to beat them in conference play.
"It's nice to beat every team in the league, which is something we've never done,'' Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell said. But when asked about winning the regular-season title, which would ensure an NIT bid if the Seawolves don't win the conference tournament, Pikiell said, "There's no reason to look down the road. We're just looking at the next 40 minutes.''
On Wednesday, El-Amin lit it up in the second half of a win over Maine, scoring 22 of his 24 points. Against Binghamton (11-16, 6-6), he picked up right where he left off, netting 19 first-half points and shooting 6-for-10 as the Seawolves took a 47-33 halftime lead.
The Bearcats played a physical game that resulted in two technical fouls: against Greer Wright for throwing a ball at a Stony Brook player and against Dylan Talley for protesting a traveling call. Coach Mark Macon restrained Talley and put him on the bench, and the coach later grabbed Mahamoud Jabbi after some bumping. Bob Knight might have appreciated Macon's hands-on approach, which was indicative of the intensity of the game.
Pikiell talked to his team at halftime about maintaining its composure. "Binghamton is the biggest team in the league at every position,'' he said. "They're huge, and the refs were calling it as close as any game all season. It got a little chippy, but the refs controlled it.''
Binghamton couldn't complain about hometown officiating, getting to the line 24 times to Stony Brook's 25. What the Bearcats couldn't control was El-Amin, who was 10-for-19 from the field, including 3-for-6 from three-point range. "I've been feeling it in practice, and I just want to stay in attack mode,'' El-Amin said.
He got plenty of help in the first half from Marcus Rouse, who had his 10 points by intermission. Tommy Brenton came on in the second half to finish with 11 points, 14 rebounds and three assists.
Wright led Binghamton with 28 points and Moussa Camara added 18. But the fire went out of the Bearcats in the second half when Stony Brook put together a 16-1 run to take its biggest lead at 72-47.
Describing the importance of "Revenge Week," El-Amin said, "This week could have taken us back to fourth. We didn't want to get swept by Maine and Binghamton. These were must-wins.''