Hartford and Stony Brook advanced to Sunday's America East Men's Basketball semifinals with wins Saturday.
Hartford and Stony Brook advanced to Sunday's America East Men's Basketball semifinals with wins Saturday.
Courtesy: America East Communications

Hartford, Vermont Victorious in #AEHoops MBB Quarterfinals

Release: 03/08/2014

ALBANY, N.Y. – For the first time since 1999, the top four seeds will play for a chance to play for the America East men’s basketball title as second-seeded Stony Brook and third-seeded Hartford earned trips to the semifinals with victories in the second quarterfinal session at SEFCU Arena on Saturday evening. The Seawolves rode a balanced attack to an 80-54 win over seventh-seeded Maine in the third quarterfinal while the Hawks’ suffocating defensive effort took them to a 69-42 win over sixth-seeded Binghamton in the final quarterfinal of the day. Stony Brook and Hartford will meet in the second men’s semifinal Sunday at approximately at 7:15 p.m. following the first semi between top-seeded Vermont and fourth-seeded Albany at 5 p.m.

Quarterfinal #3
#2 Stony Brook 80, #7 Maine 54
Box Score | Highlights | Photo Gallery | Postgame Notes | Postgame Quotes

Strong defense and a balanced attack led by Jameel Warney's 15 points lifted second-seeded Stony Brook to a 80-54 win over seventh-seeded Maine in the quarterfinals of the 2014 America East Men's Basketball Championship at SEFCU Arena Saturday evening.

The Seawolves (22-9) advance to the semifinals for the fifth-straight year and will face third-seeded Hartford with a trip to the league title game on the line Sunday at approximately 7:30 p.m. (ESPN3).

Warney, a sophomore center who was named the 2014 Kevin Roberson America East Player of the Year on Friday, led a dominant effort on both ends of the court. His 15 points on 6-of-9 from the floor led three Seawolves in double-digits, and he added a team-high eight rebounds and four blocked shots. Stony Brook held the Black Bears who came into the game with the conference's leading scoring offense to a season-low 31% from the floor and forced 23 turnovers, and the 26-point margin of victory was its program-best in a tournament game.

Both teams did not find their range in the early going before the Seawolves used a 19-2 run to turn a one-point game into a 27-9 advantage with 6:36 left in the first. SBU's  tough man-to-man defense limited Maine to just 26 percent (seven-for-25) from the floor in the first half while creating 12 turnovers. The Seawolves attacked the basket on offense and went to the line 19 times, making 15, to take a 49-25 halftime lead.

Three inside buckets by Warney and four straight at the line fueled a 15-4 start to the second and the Seawolves never looked back in cruising to the semifinals for the fifth straight year.

Carson Puriefoy added 13, Dave Coley had 12 and Rayshaun McGrew came off the bench to have nine points and nine boards for the winners. Stony Brook made 44% of its shots from the floor and went 21-for-27 (78%) from the charity stripe.

Xavier Pollard tallied 11 and Troy Reid-Knight 10 for Maine who was without its second-leading scorer, Zarko Valjarevic, who missed the game with an injury. The Black Bears finish their season at 6-23.

Quarterfinal #4
#4 Hartford 69, #5 Binghamton 42
Box Score | Highlights |
Photo Gallery | Postgame Notes | Postgame Quotes

Mark Nwakamma scored 19 points and Taylor Dyson added 18 as third-seeded Hartford rolled past sixth-seeded Binghamton, 69-42, in the quarterfinal nightcap of the 2014 America East Men's Basketball Championship in front of a boisterous crowd at SEFCU Arena Saturday night.

The Hawks will face second-seeded Stony Brook in Sunday night's second semifinal at approximately 7:15 p.m. With the win, Hartford snaps a lengthy hex against third-seeds in the tournament becoming the first to defeat a sixth-seed in seven years and just the second over the last 11.

Any Bearcats comeback bid was thwarted by Nwakamma, a two-time member of the America East All-Conference first team, who had a career-high six blocked shots in the game and scored 14 of his 19 in the second half. His six blocks tie for the fifth-most in a tournament game, two off the single-game record leading a defensive effort that allowed the fewest points ever in a quarterfinal.

The Hawks jumped out to an early 17-3 by hitting seven of their first 11 shots from the field with three three-pointers. The Bearcats answered after missing 8-of-9 to start the game on a trey and two free throws by Karon Waller and a layup by Marion Beck to cut it to 19-10. Binghamton closed within seven on a three-pointer by Beck before Hartford regained its double-digit margin on triples by Evan Cooper and Dyson. Cooper would drain another from downtown as the Hawks took a 31-20 lead into the locker room.

Early in the second, Hartford stretched its lead to 45-26 making four straight hoops including three-pointers by Dyson and Nwakamma. After a driving layup by Yosef Yacob, a three-point play by Yolanzo Moore II, two free throws by Dyson gave the Hawks a 50-28 lead with 14:33 to play. Hartford (17-15) would lead by as many as 31 down the stretch in cruising to its third straight win and seventh in its last eight games.

Dyson, who had 10 of his 18 in the first half, went four-for-eight from downtown to lead a solid perimeter attack as Hartford made nine threes in the game by four different players. Cooper added 12 and Corbin Roe chipped in with nine points and a team-high eight boards.

Yacob led Binghamton (7-23) with 10 points while Beck had eight. Hartford's defense also held Binghamton to just 29 percent from the field and forced 16 turnovers. It limited Bearcats top scorer Jordan Reed, who scored 31 in the last meeting between the two schools, to only seven on 2-for-12 from the floor.