Stony Brook, NY -- New Hampshire was able to keep it close against America East-leading Stony Brook all day long, and was within just one with six seconds remaining. But Seawolves senior forward Jameel Warney blocked his eighth shot of the day, this time Jaleen Smith's drive attempt as the buzzer sounded, sealing the 59-58 win for the Seawolves.
Stony Brook 59, New Hampshire 58 final. Wildcats went right at Jameel Warney and result predictable. pic.twitter.com/n3Kphe5L0K— Ray Curren (@currenrr) February 14, 2016
UNH forward Tanner Leissner finished with 26 points and nine rebounds, but didn't get the chance to win it for the Wildcats at the end.
"I personally thought they were going to go to the hot hand, which was Leissner," Stony Brook forward Rayshaun McGrew said. "But we knew Smith was a good one-on-one player, so we knew once he took the ball it was gonna be an isolation for Smith."
That the game even came down to the last shot was a surprise to most of the sold-out Stony Brook home crowd. The Seawolves came in with the conference's highest-scoring offense, but just couldn't get shots to fall against New Hampshire's zone early on. The Stony Brook guards forced the ball into Warney, creating turnovers and opportunities the other way. It also didn't help that guards Lucas Woodhouse and Carson Puriefoy, who shoots 45% and 42% from beyond the arc respectively, went 2-for-12 from three.
"I thought we got some really good open looks, so I wasn't that worried," Stony Brook head coach Steve Pikiell said. "But every timeout I just said, 'it doesn't matter. We defend on [the defensive end] and you'll win the game on that end of the floor.'"
He proved to be right, as the Wildcats were unable to take advantage of Stony Brook mistakes. New Hampshire shot just 33.3% from the field, including 30% from three. Outside of Leissner's playmaking, no one else was able to create consistent offense for the Wildcats.
"We've been scoring a lot of points," Pikiell said. "I liked the fact that we got old-fashioned today. We defended, because we had to."
The win was Stony Brook's 18th in a row, extending the longest winning streak in the country. Pikiell opened up about what goes into such a streak.
"We have three great seniors - they're leaders. We've got an NBA prospect - you don't always have that in this league. We can really pass the ball. But you have to be fortunate, you have to have some maturity, you have to be lucky, you have to be healthy. There's a lot of things that go into that. You can't just pinpoint one thing," Pikiell said.
Warney finished with 16 points and eight rebounds to go with the eight blocks. Stony Brook senior guard Carson Puriefoy had 16 points, and McGrew finished with 14 points and 7 rebounds.
Stony Brook (22-4, 13-0) can clinch the America East regular season title with a win over Albany on Wednesday. New Hampshire (15-10, 8-4) will play UMass Lowell on Wednesday.