Men’s basketball continues to struggle with non-conference schedule
The Eagles move to 2-7 overall after 86-68 loss to Stony Brook.
The Eagles failed to capture a win in Bender Arena after a month-long six-game road trip. After a strong start, AU proved unable to keep pace with the more athletic and aggressive Stony Brook University team. AU ended the game playing its second and third-string players and finished with a 86-68 loss to Stony Brook.
“It was a hardened veteran team, and we have to do a lot more to just stay in the game than we did tonight, but that will come with experience,” head coach Mike Brennan said.
AU began the game with a combination of layups and three-pointers, and the Eagles led by four points after the first five minutes. However, the Seawolves answered back on nearly every AU run with a scoring run of their own. Stony Brook asserted itself as the stronger team after sophomore Roland Nyama hit a three-pointer that gave the Seawolves the permanent lead during a 11-2 run.
Stony Brook’s speed and size out-muscled the Eagles inside. The Seawolves finished the first half with 24 points in the paint and seven points off fast breaks, while AU finished with only 14 points inside and no points off fast breaks in the first twenty minutes.
Defensive breakdowns plagued the Eagles throughout the first half, allowing the Seawolves to secure easy open baskets, a 67.9 shooting percentage and a 60 percent three-point shooting percentage.
“In order to be in a game like this you gotta do a lot of things right, so when you're not doing the very simple things as far as just running back on defense as fast as you can, you just can’t do that in a game like this,” Brennan said. “But I think that's just one example of the handful of things that you can control. And we didn’t do the things that we can control.”
The Eagles went into the locker room at halftime down 46-34.
Four minutes into the second half, AU saw its deficit increase to 21 points. With about 13 minutes left in the game, both teams inserted their bench players. For the Eagles, juniors Jalen Rhea and Leon Tolksdorf and sophomores Gabe Brown and Alex Paquin took the court and recorded valuable minutes.
Tolksdorf, a redshirt junior, has only played 14 minutes so far this year, as Brennan has played fellow transfer Paris Maragkos and freshman Andrija Matic instead. However, Tolksdorf managed eight points, two rebounds and one block in just 11 minutes on the court. Brennan said after the game he would look closer at Tolksdorf and possibly play him more frequently as the season progresses.
“We got some young guys out there, and games are hard. It’s a long season, and freshman are going to wear down, and it seemed like they were wore down tonight,” Brennan said. “So they needed a break, and the guys that did get in there played hard. They recognized it was an opportunity, they did some good things, which I was happy to see.”
Since AU’s last home game, Brennan’s starting lineup has changed significantly with the insertion of two true freshman guards Delante Jones and James Washington. Jones finished the game with 15 points, mostly from shots beyond the three-point arc (4-for-5 on three-point shots).
Brennan says he recognizes the youth of his team and will not let the losses early in the season dictate the outcome of future games.
“I think they are getting more comfortable. I think we’ll be a different team a week from now, a month from now, two month from now,” Brennan said. “We just have to keep plugging away. You gotta get down after losing, you don’t like to lose, its gotta affect you but it’s got to also inspire you and make you want to push yourself.”