STONY BROOK, N.Y.—It was only a matter of time before Stony Brook found its rhythm against the Binghamton men’s basketball team.
The Seawolves (11-6, 3-0 America East) pulled away from the Bearcats (4-13, 1-3 America East) with a 20-5 run in the last 7:35 of the first half, leading by as many as 25 en route to a 67-47 victory at Pritchard Gymnasium on Wednesday night.
“They do what good teams do,” BU head coach Tommy Dempsey said. “They had their good run, but we did force them to make some tough threes. They made two tough threes right in front of me.”
The Bearcats’ 2-3 zone caused several deflections in the first half and limited the production of Stony Brook sophomore forward Jameel Warney, who carried averages of 15.9 points and 8.8 rebounds per game into tonight’s contest. But while Warney got off just three shots for five points in the first 20 minutes, the Seawolves broke out in transition a few times and rode that pair of treys to a 37-23 halftime lead.
Out of the break, Binghamton’s zone lacked the ferocity that forced nine Stony Brook turnovers in the first half, and the Bearcats couldn’t keep pace with the hosts, who shot 47.7 percent and scored 1.09 points per possession on the night.
“They were struggling with [the zone] at first,” said freshman guard Yosef Yacob, who posted a team-high 14 points on 4-of-10 shooting. “I think we died down toward the end of the first half. Our energy in the zone kind of died down.”
With senior guard Anthony Jackson suspended for the second straight game, senior guard Dave Coley led Stony Brook’s surge early in the second half, scoring nine of his game-high 20 points in the first 5:38. His foul shot at the 14:22 mark dealt the Seawolves their first 20-point lead of the night.
From there, Binghamton would never come closer than 15, posting a woeful shooting percentage of 31.8 percent and scoring just 0.75 points per possession.
Freshman forward Nick Madray struggled more from the floor than any of his teammates. With senior forward Eric McAlister countering his versatility with athleticism and equal length, Madray shot 1 of 10 from the field for six points.
Including his goose egg against UMass Lowell, Madray has converted just one of his last 16 field goal attempts, a far cry from the 8-of-9 shooting that netted him 21 points against New Hampshire on Jan. 9.
Madray wasn’t the only Bearcat with a tough matchup against Stony Brook’s man-to-man defense. Versatile redshirt freshman guard Ahmad Walker registered five steals as he harassed the likes of sophomore guard Jordan Reed, freshman forward Magnus Richards and the point guard corps at times, and Yacob had to run the offense with Coley applying constant on-ball pressure.
Though Yacob dished out just one assist to three turnovers, he handled Coley’s pressure well and provided a much-needed scoring touch for the second game in a row.
“I respect Coley as one of the best perimeter defenders, if not the best perimeter defender, in the league,” Dempsey said, “and I thought Yosef did a pretty good job against him. Coming into it, I was a little worried he wasn’t going to get much done against Coley.”
While Yacob put forth another encouraging display, Reed did not. The sophomore played just nine minutes—all in the first half—and went 0-for-4 en route to the first scoreless outing of his career.
For the second time this season, Dempsey benched his team’s leading scorer.
“Just I made a decision to play with the guys that I thought were playing with the best energy,” Dempsey said. “I thought we played very well for stretches in the first half without [Reed].”
In response to Dempsey pulling him out of Binghamton’s Dec. 1 blowout loss to Colgate, Reed scored 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds in the Bearcats’ win over Mount St. Mary’s three days later.
“We’ll see what it does [this time],” Dempsey said.
Reed will have a chance to redeem himself when the Bearcats return to action on Monday night at Albany. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at SEFCU Arena.
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