Stony Brook men’s basketball team punches ticket to NCAA tournament

Stony Brook men’s basketball team punches ticket to NCAA tournament

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Warney tallies career-high 43 points in America East Championships victory

Fans celebrate along with the Stony Brook University men's basketball team after the Seawolves claimed the American East Championship title and its first NCAA Division I appearance at the Island Federal Credit Union Arena on March 12. Photo by John Griffin/Stony Brook University
Stony Brook University men's basketball standout Jameel Warney speaks to reporters with the net draped around his neck after his team earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Photo by John Griffin/Stony Brook University
Stony Brook University men’s basketball standout Jameel Warney speaks to reporters with the net draped around his neck after his team earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Photo by John Griffin/Stony Brook University

Senior Jameel Warney tallied a career-high 43 points and senior Carson Puriefoy added 23 to help secure the Stony Brook men’s basketball team’s first trip to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship with an 80-74 victory over the University of Vermont in the America East Championship at a raucous, sold-out Island Federal Credit Union Arena.

Stony Brook (26-6) erased a 15-point second-half deficit to storm back and punch its ticket to the field of 68, which will be fully announced Sunday at 5:30 p.m. on CBS. Stony Brook will host an NCAA tournament selection show event Sunday at Island Federal Credit Union Arena.

Junior Lucas Woodhouse dished out eight assists for the Seawolves, who avenged their only home defeat of the season and closed out their home slate 15-1, before hitting the road next week for the NCAA tournament.

Trae Bell-Haynes had 17 points to lead Vermont (21-13), which had three players in double-figures with 11 points from Ernie Duncan and 10 from Cam Ward.
Vermont led 48-33 with 15:17 remaining before a 24-10 Stony Brook run cut the deficit to 58-57 with 7:48 to go on a Woodhouse jumper. The Seawolves took a 62-61 lead with 5:59 remaining and the teams traded baskets for the next two-and-a-half minutes before a free throw by junior Ahmad Walker with 3:14 to go gave the Seawolves a lead they would not relinquish.

Warney was a remarkable 18-for-22 from the field in the victory to go with a 7-for-10 showing from the free-throw line. The Seawolves senior added 10 rebounds and four blocks in his final home game at Stony Brook. Warney’s third-consecutive double-double gave him 59 for his Seawolves career. He tallied 25 of his 43 points in the second half.

The Stony Brook University men's basketball team huddles together. Photo by John Griffin/Stony Brook University
The Stony Brook University men’s basketball team huddles together. Photo by John Griffin/Stony Brook University

The 43-point, career-best performance for Warney eclipses a 36-point outing against the University of Hartford on Feb. 8. It is also the highest total in the Division I era by any Seawolves player. The last 40-point output by a Seawolves player was Emeka Smith’s 49-point performance against Lehman College on Dec. 7, 1991.

Puriefoy, who notched 16 of his 23 points in the second half, drained all five of Stony Brook’s 3-point makes and was 8-for-10 from the charity stripe. He added four assists and two of Stony Brook’s seven steals. Puriefoy played all 40 minutes in a regulation game for the third time this season. Puriefoy moved within 28 points of D.J. Munir (2000-04) for third on the Division I scoring list. He has 1,562 points through Saturday.

The 26th victory of the season set a new Division I program record.

The Stony Brook men’s basketball team will play the University of Kentucky in the Round of 64, the NCAA Selection Committee announced Sunday evening.

The Seawolves, seeded 13th, will face No. 4 Kentucky Thursday at 9:40 p.m. ET on CBS.  Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery and Tracy Wolfson will broadcast the game. Stony Brook will be making its first appearance in the Division I Tournament. The Seawolves, known then as the Patriots, last made the NCAA Tournament in 1991 as a member of Division III.

The Stony Brook University men's basketball team topped the University of Vermont to claim the America East Championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs. Photo by John Griffin/Stony Brook University
The Stony Brook University men’s basketball team topped the University of Vermont to claim the America East Championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs. Photo by John Griffin/Stony Brook University

“We are going to play a historic program — one of the best programs in college basketball — with a Hall of Fame coach and first round draft picks all over the place,” Stony Brook head coach Steve Pikiell said. “This is a great opportunity for our guys to go and continue their season and play one of the best teams in the country.”

Kentucky advanced to its 55th NCAA Tournament with a victory over Texas A&M University in the Southeastern Conference Championship game. The two squads faced each other in 2007, and the Wildcats held off the Seawolves, 62-52.

The winner of Thursday’s game will face Indiana University or the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in the second round.