Often one of the key ingredients to a team's successful season is the ability to win at home. Seven times this season, Stony Brook has hosted a game in Pritchard Gym and seven times this season, Stony Brook has won that home game. The Seawolves were looking for nine wins at home in a row dating back to last season when they hosted the Wildcats of New Hampshire for a 5:00 P.M. start due to the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday.
It was clearly evident at the start of the game that this was going to be a contrast in offensive styles. New Hampshire was content to shoot from long distance, while Stony Brook worked it inside. Brian Benson gave the Wildcats their first and only lead at 3-2 on a 3-pointer. But that was their only basket on their first five possessions as they turned the ball over on the other four. Meanwhile, Al Rapier got off to a good start as he scored the first eight Seawolves' points. Stony Brook was up early 14-5 with ten and half minutes left.
But the Wildcats refused to go away as they responded with a 9-0 run to tie the game at fourteen with a little more than seven minutes left. Alvin Abreu kept the Wildcats in the game with ten points in the first half. The remainder of the first half would remain close as the Seawolves continued to hit layups and the Wildcats continued to hit 3-pointers. The score at the half was Stony Brook 26, New Hampshire 24.
Earlier in the game, my color analyst, my six year old son Matthew, commented that all that New Hampshire does is shoot threes. He was correct. In the first half, the Wildcats had twenty field goal attempts, twelve of which came from beyond the arc. New Hampshire hit four of those, which kept them in the game. Meanwhile, Stony Brook was only two of ten from beyond the arc, but ten of sixteen two point field goals.
The start of the second half was the Tommy Brenton show. The junior Seawolves forward scored nine of Stony Brook's first 16 points and assisted on two baskets during that stretch. Brenton is everywhere on the court and there was one series in particular that showed that. First he hit an up and under layup for two points. Then on the defensive end, Brenton grabbed the rebound and brought the ball up court. Then while holding the ball, he set up a screen for Marcus Rouse, who canned a jumper.
With much of the credit due to Brenton, Stony Brook opened up a 48-33 lead on New Hampshire with about eight and a half minutes left. During the first eleven and a half minutes of the second half, the Wildcats only shot three of nine from the field and committed six turnovers. Things looked bleak for New Hampshire.
One of the great things about Stony Brook games is that they are very family friendly. There are several contests during the stoppage of play and there is of course, Wolfie, the Seawolves' intrepid mascot and one of the best mascots I have seen at Division I basketball games. But what stands out is the "Cotton Eye Joe" dance late in the second half. This is where all the kids get to dance on the court with the Stony Brook cheerleaders, dance team and Wolfie. After having been at several Seawolves' games, Matthew finally decided to join the dance yesterday and I took a video of it. He told me he had a great time and would do it again.
The 3-pointer can get a team back into a game quickly and as noted in the first half, New Hampshire loves to shoot the three. The Wildcats would mix in four 3-pointers along with several other baskets over the next seven minutes and cut the Seawolves' lead to seven, 57-50 with a minute and a half left. But the clock ran out on New Hampshire as Stony Brook held on to win 61-52.
It was Stony Brook's eighth straight home win of the season and their ninth in a row overall dating back to last season. Their recent Pritchard Gym winning streak is helping the Seawolves maintain first place in the America East with a 5-1 record. Holding serve at home is half the battle in conference.
at STONY BROOK 61, NEW HAMPSHIRE 52 01/16/2012
NEW HAMPSHIRE 6-10 (1-4) -- M. Denmon 4-11 7-8 16; C. Rhoads 2-5 0-0 4; A. Abreu 7-13 2-2 20; B. Benson 2-5 0-2 5; P. Konan 6-12 1-2 15; J. Bronner 0-2 0-0 0; F. Myrick 2-4 0-0 5; C. Matagrano 0-0 0-0 0; G. Jones 1-1 0-0 3; S. Morris 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-42 3-6 52. STONY BROOK 10-7 (5-1) -- T. Brenton 5-5 3-6 13; B. Dougher 4-15 0-0 10; D. Coley 1-4 2-2 4; A. Rapier 6-8 2-2 14; D. Joyner 3-6 2-2 8; M. Rouse 2-4 0-0 4; L. Hayes 0-1 0-0 0; A. Jackson 1-4 2-2 5; E. McAlister 1-2 0-0 3; D. Carter 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 23-50 11-14 61.
Three-point goals: UNH 9-22 (A. Abreu 4-7; B. Benson 1-2; C. Rhoads 0-3; F. Myrick 1-2; P. Konan 2-5; J. Bronner 0-2; G. Jones 1-1), SB 4-15 (D. Carter 0-1; B. Dougher 2-7; L. Hayes 0-1; E. McAlister 1-1; A. Jackson 1-4; D. Coley 0-1); Rebounds: UNH 18 (B. Benson 9), SB 31 (A. Rapier 9); Assists: UNH 12 (C. Rhoads 5), SB 9 (T. Brenton 2); Total Fouls -- UNH 15, SB 12; Fouled Out: UNH-P. Konan; SB-None.