Seventeen years ago, Wolfie made his debut as the mascot of the Stony Brook Seawolves. Seventeen years ago, Stony Brook wasn't even a Division I basketball team. The Seawolves weren't Division I until 1999 and didn't join the America East until 2001. But here we were on a Thursday night, seventeen years later, celebrating Wolfie's birthday and also celebrating the fact that Stony Brook was leading the America East heading into their game against UMBC.
The night started with Matthew and I barely getting to the game on time due to having to drop off my younger son with my in-laws, since my wife was coming back from a work meeting in New Jersey. But before we could get into Pritchard Gymnasium, Matthew had to have his pregame ritual; a pretzel and a bottle of water.
When we got to our seats, it wasn't long before there was a timeout on the court. The Stony Brook cheerleaders then rolled out a red carpet for several guest mascots and then for the guest of honor, Wolfie Seawolf. Matthew and I only recognized one mascot, QuackerJack, the intrepid mascot of the Long Island Ducks Atlantic League baseball team. They might be now the best professional baseball team on Long Island, since that major league team in Queens is seemingly getting worse by the minute.
In their first matchup of the season, the Seawolves traveled down to Maryland and drubbed the Retrievers by forty points, 89-49. So you would think that Matthew and I would see a similar result last night. Well, that's why they play the game.
In the first half, UMBC shot the lights out, hitting on 59 percent of their shots (16 of 27). However the Retrievers only led by one at the half, because the Seawolves had six 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes to keep the game close. Considering UMBC came into the game with a record of 3-20, I kept saying to Matthew, this might be the best the Retrievers have shot from the field in a half for the entire season.
At halftime, everyone was invited to the concourse to have cupcakes in celebration of Wolfie's birthday. However, Matthew and I chose to stay in the gym and watch the halftime CYO game. Matthew had also brought with him my younger son's Wolfie Seawolf doll to the game. I have to admit, the doll's facial features make it more imposing than the real life Wolfie.
The start of the second half saw Stony Brook briefly take the lead on a layup by Bryan Dougher. But Ryan Cook and Chase Plummer responded with two three pointers to put UMBC back up by five, 41-36. Seawolves' coach Steve Pikiell immediately called up timeout. The fans near me couldn't believe how well the Retrievers were shooting on the night.
But Stony Brook would respond with a run and it was due in large part to their heart and soul; junior forward Tommy Brenton. Brenton sat out most of the first half with two fouls and if you have seen enough Seawolves' games this season like I have, you know that he gives his team so much energy.
Over the course of eight minutes, Stony Brook would outscore UMBC 19-6. During that run, Brenton played a major part. He had five assists, three rebounds and a layup. He also drew a pivotal fourth offensive foul on Plummer, the Retrievers' leading scorer, which sent Plummer to the bench. With eight minutes left, the Seawolves were up eight.
During a media timeout, they had a Price is Right game with several Stony Brook students. The question was "Tommy Brenton has the all time Stony Brook record for rebounds in a game. How many rebounds did he have?" The answer was 17. It was very appropriate that the question was based on Brenton. Much to their credit, UMBC refused to quit. They kept the game within single digits and after a Brian Neller three pointer, the Retrievers were only down four, 64-60 with just less than three minutes left. UMBC certainly did not look like a 3-20 team last night.
But eventually Stony Brook wore them down. The Seawolves would outscore the Retrievers 16-8 the rest of the way.
At the end of the game, it was only fitting that Brenton again was involved. He grabbed his sixth rebound of the game with six seconds left. After he had grabbed the ball away from UMBC's Chandler Thomas, Thomas took offense and pulled away his arm. Thomas drew a technical foul and Dougher hit two free throws for the final score of 80-68.
For UMBC, Plummer led all scorers with eighteen points. Neller had eleven points and Ryan Cook added ten points. The Retrievers played hard all night and they seemed a lot better than a 3-20 team. They were certainly better than four teams that I have personally seen this season, two of whom UMBC beat: Binghamton and Towson (the other two teams are FDU and Colgate). If they keep playing like this, I could see the Retrievers surprising some team in the America East tournament if that team isn't ready for them. For Stony Brook, Anthony Jackson was the leading scorer with 17 points for Stony Brook. Dougher added sixteen, while Marcus Rouse and Dallas Joyner had fourteen points each. Brenton only had three points on the night, but he had seven assists, six rebounds and a lasting impression on my six year old son. Brenton is one of Matthew's favorite players.
As for Wolfie, he got lots of presents and adulation from his fans and his fellow mascot friends. And of course, Wolfie led the way during the "Cotton Eye Joe" kids' dance. Happy Birthday, Wolfie!
Hopefully Wolfie enjoyed the birthday present from his Seawolves; their eighth straight win overall and their thirteenth straight home win. Stony Brook is now 17-7 overall and 12-1 in the America East. Too bad ESPN doesn't know how good the Seawolves are, since they were shunned from a televised BracketBuster game.
Hopefully soon enough, everyone will know how good the Seawolves really are.
at STONY BROOK 80, MARYLAND-BALTIMORE COUNTY 68 02/09/2012
MARYLAND-BALTIMORE COUNTY 3-21 (2-10) -- B. Neller 4-12 0-0 11; C. Plummer 8-18 1-2 18; J. Wasco 3-4 0-0 6; R. Cook 3-8 3-4 10; J. Lane 1-2 0-0 2; J. Getz 3-6 3-4 9; C. Thomas 3-5 2-2 8; J. Wertz 1-2 0-0 2; N. Basalyga 1-1 0-0 2; W. Wise 0-0 0-0 0; J. Wejnert 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 27-58 9-12 68. STONY BROOK 17-7 (12-1) -- B. Dougher 5-14 4-4 16; M. Rouse 4-8 4-4 14; D. Joyner 5-8 4-12 14; T. Brenton 1-2 1-2 3; A. Rapier 3-6 2-3 8; A. Jackson 5-8 4-4 17; D. Coley 0-5 1-2 1; L. Hayes 0-2 0-0 0; D. Carter 1-4 0-0 3; E. McAlister 0-1 0-0 0; R. Bracey 2-2 0-0 4. Totals 26-60 20-31 80.
Three-point goals: UMBC 5-23 (B. Neller 3-11; J. Wertz 0-1; C. Plummer 1-6; R. Cook 1-4; J. Getz 0-1), SB 8-22 (D. Carter 1-2; B. Dougher 2-9; M. Rouse 2-3; L. Hayes 0-1; E. McAlister 0-1; A. Jackson 3-5; D. Coley 0-1); Rebounds: UMBC 31 (J. Wasco 10), SB 34 (D. Joyner 8); Assists: UMBC 11 (J. Wasco 4), SB 14 (T. Brenton 7); Total Fouls -- UMBC 26, SB 13; Fouled Out: UMBC-R. Cook; SB-None.