Through 11 games Lorenzo Romar’s Washington Huskies, picked to finish in the bottom half of the Pac-12 in the preseason poll, was one of college basketball’s biggest surprises as they racked up 11 wins and moved to 13th in the AP poll. With wins over San Diego State and Oklahoma to their credit, Sunday’s matchup with Stony Brook didn’t look to be much of an issue for the Huskies in their final tune-up before the start of Pac-12 play.
However the Seawolves, preseason favorites to win America East, didn’t quit despite trailing by as much as 16 and Steve Pikiell’s team ultimately came back to win 62-57. Jameel Warney, a forward who deserves more national praise than he’s received, banked in a shot with 29.1 seconds remaining to give Stony Brook its first lead of the game. The junior scored 15 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out six assists with fellow forward Rayshaun McGrew adding ten points to go along with a career-high 14 rebounds to lead the way for Stony Brook.
But it was guard Kameron Mitchell, who is averaging just 3.9 points per game on the season, who made some key plays that sparked Stony Brook’s second half rally. Mitchell, who finished the game with 12 points, made three of his four three-pointers during a three-minute stretch in which the Seawolves managed to cut Washington’s lead to 55-52 with just over four minutes left in the game.
And with second-leading scorer Carson Puriefoy struggling from the field, Mitchell’s second-half contributions couldn’t have come at a better time for Stony Brook. Puriefoy, currently averaging 14.6 points per game, shot just 2-for-12 from the field and scored six points Sunday night.
For many teams that kind of performance from a key player would essentially guarantee defeat, but that wasn’t the case for Stony Brook thanks in part to Mitchell’s perimeter shooting.
As for Washington, this wasn’t the best of nights for any of the three players who have been so important for them this season. Guards Andrew Andrews (eight points, seven rebounds and four assists) and Nigel Williams-Goss (ten points, three assists) combined to score 18 points on 8-for-26 shooting, and center Robert Upshaw (ten points, 11 rebounds and four blocks) shot 5-for-13 from the field.
As a team the Huskies shot just 34.3% from the field, marking just the third time this season that they’ve failed to shoot at least 40 percent. While those numbers, and the fact that Stony Brook converted 12 Washington turnovers into 19 points, would make it easy to ask the “what’s wrong with Washington” question the Seawolves deserve the credit for not going away from what they do best despite the 16-point margin.
For programs such as Stony Brook their most important chapter will be written in March, with the goal of an NCAA tournament berth coming down to their ability to win three straight games in the conference tournament. But even with that being the case, their first-ever win over a ranked opponent is one Stony Brook won’t forget anytime soon.