Hurricane Brenton: Seawolves survive downpour of Northeastern 3′s, climb on the back of do-everything forward for the win.February 19th, 2012 by Sam Perkins
(Boston, MA)–Hurricane Brenton struck Matthews Arena Saturday afternoon, leaving quaking backboards and a path of destruction in his wake.
Stony Brook forward Tommy Brenton was everywhere Saturday night – clogging passing lanes, dishing out assists, rattling the rim for big dunks, and making all the plays that don’t show up in the stat sheet – leading the visiting Seawolves to a win over Northeastern in the Sears BracketBusters.
“I thought [Brenton] was the biggest single factor in the game,” said Northeastern head coach Bill Coen.
Brenton scored 13 points on a perfect 5-5 shooting to go with seven rebounds, seven assists, two steals, two blocks, and a pair of thunderous dunks, to carry the Seawolves back from a nine-point deficit with under six-minutes to play, to a 76-69 win.
“Tommy does everything for us: [He] made every big play, grabbed every big rebound,” said Stony Brook head coach Steve Pikiell.
During a five-minute span late in the second half in which the Seawolves turned an eight-point deficit into a two-point lead, Brenton played a direct role in 15 of the Seawolves 17 points, scoring nine, dishing out two assists, while adding two steals that led directly to baskets.
“I think he just willed his way: He just made winning basketball plays, whether it was hustle plays, tips on the ball, offensive rebounds, defensive stops,” said Coen.
Sophomore guard Dave Coley matched his career-high with a game-high 21 points – including huge plays to close out the first half and put Stony Brook on top in the second, and four free-throws in the final 40 seconds to ice the game. Center Dallis Joyner added a 10 point 10 rebound double-double.
The Huskies shot 51 percent (26-51) from the field, and a season-high 58.8-percent (10-17) from downtown, while Stony Brook dominated the glass, out-rebounding Northeastern 38-26, leading to 26 second-chance points.
“We out-rebounded a team that was two, three inches taller than us at every position,” said Pikiell. “You had to come up here and beat them and they shot lights out.”
On the heels of a crushing 19-point defeat to Vermont, one which ripped the top seed in the America East tournament away from Stony Brook, the Seawolves fortitude and fight was encouraging, as Stony Brook responded to every Northeastern run.
Northeastern shot 7-of-8 from downtown in the first half, keying a 15-2 run to take a 35-28 lead with 2:23 remaining. Stony Brook responded with a 7-0 run to close out the half, including five-points in the final 10 seconds of play.
Reserve wing Leonard Hayes buried a deep 3 with nine seconds remaining cut the lead to 35-33, and Coley ripped away the inbounds and banked in a jumper as the buzzer sounded, tying the game heading into the break.
The Seawolves back court struggled to stay in front of Northeastern’s guards in the second half, and leading scorer Bryan Dougher was relegated to the bench with four fouls. A pair of Quincy Ford free throws put Northeastern up 57-49 with 7:27 left.
That’s when Brenton took over.
For the first 32:40 of game time, Brenton continually passed up open driving lanes and differed to his teammates – a shortcoming of his for most of the season.
“I’d like him to shoot more, because I think he can make more shots,” said Pikiell of Brenton.
With 7:20 left, Brenton went hard to the hoop, drawing a foul and converting the ensuing free-throws. A possession later, with Brenton converted an up-and-under lay-up in traffic off an inbounds pass with 2 seconds left on the shot-clock. After a Marcus Rouse jumper, Brenton went shoulders above the fray for a rebound, and – in one fluid motion – cuffed the ball in one-arm and tomahawked it through the hoop.
Brenton then hit Al Rapier with a pinpoint pass for a lay-up, before connecting with Coley for a 3. On the ensuing possession, he stripped Kauri Black at half court, and went coast-to-coast for an emphatic two-hand slam, tying the game at 64 with 2:44 left. After a Northeastern timeout, Brenton again interrupted Northeastern’s offense, picking guard Joel Smith’s pocket and firing ahead to Coley, who was intentionally fouled.
“He’s an extremely tough kid,” said Coen of Brenton, who was gushing blood in the first half after an elbow to the eye, “he jumped out in the passing lane.”
Coley hit 1-of-2 free-throws, and Brenton converted another to put Stony Brook on top 66-64 with 2:17 left. The Seawolves pushed their lead to six, and Coley’s free-throws down the stretch sealed the game.
The ever expanding scope (and watered-down pool) of the BracketBusters has drawn increased ire in basketball-circles, and Pikiell was less than enthusiastic about playing a non-conference road game on the brink of the conference tournament.
“It’s our fifth game on the road out of six – it’s tough. It’s a game we gotta’ play – they tell us we gotta’ play it,” said Pikiell.
But there were positive signs for the Seawolves moving forward. Chiefly, Brenton looking to create his own shot, the Seawolves renewed fight, and the improving confidence of Hayes.
After immerging as one of the conferences best shooters – and of the surprise story of the America East – of last season, he has struggled with his shot and confidence for much of the year. Against the Huskies, Hayes didn’t hesitate to take — and drain — three NBA range 3’s.
“He’s been shooting a lot better lately, we’re starting to see the old Lenny again,” said Pikiell.