The first-place Stony Brook Seawolves held the University of Maine to 34.5 percent shooting from the field en route to a 69-53 victory on Sunday afternoon on the Black Bears’ senior day.
Stony Brook — 21-6 overall, 12-2 America East — jumped out to a hot start, shooting 50 percent from the field in the first half, scoring 44 points in the paint; they only turned the ball over seven times and kept the Black Bears out of their offensive rhythm throughout the game, living up to their fifth overall field-goal percentage defensive ranking in the nation at 36.8 percent.
Senior forward Tommy Brenton led the Seawolves with a gritty stat line, scoring 13 points, grabbing 19 rebounds and chipping in seven assists. Freshman forward Jameel Warney added 15 points on 7-12 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds.
“This is a team you have to play well against for all 40 minutes,” said UMaine head coach Ted Woodward.
The loss drops the Black Bears to 11-17 overall and 6-9 in the conference. It is only the Black Bears’ fourth loss at home this season, but UMaine seemed flat on this senior day. Junior forward Alasdair Fraser led the Black Bears with 15 points, including 3-5 from the 3-point line; he also added seven rebounds. Senior forward Mike Allison tallied eight points and six rebounds with one blocked shot in his last game at Alfond Arena.
“I didn’t think we played with the intensity we needed to today,” Woodward said. “Top to bottom, I thought we were sloppy. I thought we played with it in pockets, but you can’t do that against a very good basketball team like Stony Brook.”
The highlight for the Black Bears came early in the first half. Freshman guard Shaun Lawton caught the ball in the corner where Fraser went out to set a screen. Lawton quickly split the Seawolves defenders, getting into the paint before dishing a low bounce pass back to Fraser for the nice finish and cutting the Stony Brook lead to 11-8 with just over 12 minutes to go in the half.
The Seawolves would respond with an 8-0 run highlighted by a three at the top of the key by senior guard Marcus Rouse — who finished the game with eight points — and a pull-up jumper in transition by junior guard Dave Coley who finished with 12 points including 6 for 8 from the foul line.
“I knew it would be difficult to come up here and play and I always worry about senior nights,” said Stony Brook head coach Steve Pikiell. “We wanted to keep them out of transition and we did that by scoring and getting to the free throw line.”
Stony Brook finished shooting 42 percent from the field and went 14-22 from the charity stripe. The Black Bears were unable to match the Seawolves efficiency, shooting 8-15 from the free throw line and 20-58 from the field. The Black Bears only turned the ball over 12 times, but were out-hustled as Stony Brook scored 16 second chance points and 8 fast break points.
“The intensity wasn’t there,” Fraser said. “There is no excuse for not getting back on defense.”
It seemed the Black Bears may have a chance as Lawton hit a fall-away three, as time expired in the first half, to cut the lead to 25-35. The Seawolves came out hot in the second half with a quick 8-3 run, giving the Seawolves a 43-28 lead with just over 17 minutes to play. Stony Brook would lead by as much as 23 points but the Black Bears kept fighting.
Six points by sophomore guard Xavier Pollard in the games final 10 minutes — 10 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, five turnovers — and a late three by sophomore guard Justin Edwards — 12 points, six rebounds — cut the lead to 11 with just over a minute to go. Stony Brook would respond with two Coley free throws to put the game out of reach.
“They did a great job of packing the paint in and taking away lanes,” Allison said.
The Black Bears paid tribute to the team’s two seniors Allison and Jon McAllian before the game started.
“It was a lot of fun, and I’m going to miss it here,” Allison said in response to his last game at Alfond arena.
UMaine will wrap up regular season play on Sunday, March 3 at 1 p.m., at the University of New Hampshire.