Stony Brook, N.Y. -- After an 18-game winning streak, the America East regular season champions have now lost two of three. The latest, a 76-62 loss at home to Vermont, might put its NCAA tournament hopes in jeopardy if the Seawolves fail to win the conference tournament.
"We're obviously going to have to play better, but what we set out to do was to win the league and win home court, and we got that," Stony Brook head coach Steve Pikiell said after the loss. "Today doesn't effect any of that."
Vermont went 10-for-19 from beyond the arc, including 4-for-4 from guard Ernie Duncan, who finished with a game-high 23 points. The Seawolves seemingly had no answer for the freshman's shooting touch all game.
But the more worrying aspect of today's game for Pikiell might be on the offensive end, where the Seawolves failed to figure out Vermont's zone until the game was already out of hand. Senior forward Rayshaun McGrew, who finished with 17 points and nine rebounds, was the only consistent scorer. Likely America East Player of the Year Jameel Warney added 13 points and 8 rebounds, but was a non-factor early in the game when it was still in reach. Stony Brook shot just 5-for-15 from three and 7-for-19 from the free throw line.
"You've got to make some shots, that's the bottom line," Pikiell said. "I thought we got good looks, so if they don't go in against a good team, you're not going to win."
Vermont (19-12, 11-5) moved to third place in the America East standings and will host Maine in the first round of the conference tournament next week. If they continue shooting 52.6% from three, they'll be a tough out in March no matter who is on the other side.
Stony Brook (23-6, 14-2) will host eighth-seeded UMBC on March 2nd in the first round of the conference tournament. Although the Retrievers are just 3-13 in conference play, Pikiell explained his concerns in defending a potent scorer like Jairus Lyles, who averages almost 23 points per game.
"He scores against everybody, so I don't even worry about that matchup. No one's been able to stop him. So it's defending all of the rest of the guys that's very important," Pikeill said.