Keyshawn Bryant would throw down a monster slam, Stony Brook would answer with a bucket. A.J. Lawson would hit a 3-pointer, Stony Brook would answer with a bucket. Chris Silva would finish an exhausting sequence with a layup through contact, Stony Brook would answer with a bucket.
The second opponent on South Carolina’s 2018-19 schedule never went away Friday night at Colonial Life Arena. It seemed every time the home team appeared to seize momentum, the visitors were there to stop it.
Stony Brook 83, South Carolina 81.
“They physically beat us,” said Carolina coach Frank Martin.
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Despite being out-rebounded by 16 and getting hardly anything from their veteran frontcourt, the Gamecocks still had a chance to force overtime. But a mad push up the floor — as USC was operating without timeouts — ended when Justin Minaya’s jumper was blocked at the buzzer by Stony Brook’s Jeff Otchere.
“Their guy didn’t sit in the paint,” Martin said. “They matched up in the open court. Give their guy credit, he went out there and blocked Justin’s shot.”
And dropped the Gamecocks to 1-1 on the young season. Lawson led USC with 23 points.
Laying down apparently isn’t a trait the Seawolves posses this year. On Tuesday, Stony Brook (2-0) rallied from a 22-0 deficit to beat George Washington in overtime.
“One of our mantras is ‘Championship teams find a way to win,’” said Stony Brook coach Jeff Boals. “We knew we’d have to have a good lead coming down the stretch. We knew coming out of halftime, we had to give a better effort the second 20 minutes than we did the first 20.
“We had multiple guys step up and hit big shots to counter the runs.”
The Seawolves, up two at the break, led by as many as nine in the second half.
Tre Campbell hit a 3-pointer to end a four-point possession for the Gamecocks with 5:14 left, but Stony Brook’s Miles Latimer soon followed with a couple treys of his own to put the Seawolves ahead, 79-70.
“That’s definitely deflating,” Campbell said.
Stony Brook shot 50 percent in the second half. The Seawolves’ Akwasi Yeboah scored a game-high 24 points and grabbed a game-best 11 rebounds.
“They were running the pick-and-roll, giving it to their best player (Yeboah) at the block and he was scoring every time he got the ball,” Campbell said.
When a Minaya put-back made it an 81-78 game with 1:13 left, Yeboah answered with a layup 29 seconds later. That’s all the scoring the Seawolves would need.
“It’s not like they ran a complicated offense, it’s not like they defended us in ways we didn’t anticipate,” Martin said. “They just physically manhandled us. They beat us to every loose ball, they beat us to every rebound. They didn’t give in.”
The Gamecocks got the sparse CLA crowd of 9,657 going on several occasions. Bryant, the breakout star in Tuesday’s win against USC Upstate, scored six first-half points, including a highlight reel finish off a Lawson lob to tie things at 26 with three minutes left. Later in the period, Lawson drilled one of his three 3s to give Carolina a one-point advantage with 37 ticks left. But Stony Brook responded with a Yeboah put-back before the first half buzzer.
It was one of the Seawolves’ 22 offensive rebounds on the night. They won the glass battle, 49-33, as USC’s experienced bigs Silva and Maik Kotsar couldn’t avoid foul trouble. Silva didn’t return to the floor after picking up his fourth foul at the 10:18 mark. Kotsar didn’t record a rebound in 17 minutes of action.
“My freshmen (Lawson and Bryant) really tried, Tre Campbell (15 points) really tried,” Martin said. “We got nothing from the older guys.”
After missing all 18 3-point attempts Tuesday, the Gamecocks ended the drought early Friday. Campbell stuck a corner 3 on USC’s second try of the night. That brought the Carolina lead to 4-0 with 17:46 to go in the first half. Its biggest advantage in the opening period was six.
The Gamecocks return to action Tuesday when they host Norfolk State at 7 p.m.
STONY BROOK (2-0) | Olaniyi 4-14 8-10 16, Otchere 0-0 0-0 0, Cornish 4-11 0-0 8, Latimer 4-10 0-0 11, Yeboah 8-24 3-3 24, Ochefu 3-3 6-6 12, Christie 0-0 0-0 0, McKenzie 0-1 0-0 0, Moor 0-1 1-2 1, Garcia 4-6 1-2 11. Totals 27-70 19-23 83.
SOUTH CAROLINA (1-1) | Minaya 5-8 1-2 11, Kotsar 3-5 1-2 7, Silva 1-5 5-7 7, Lawson 8-17 4-7 23, Campbell 5-12 1-2 15, Haase 1-2 0-2 3, Bryant 4-9 1-2 9, Cudd 0-0 0-0 0, Gravett 2-5 1-2 6. Totals 29-63 14-26 81.
Halftime: Stony Brook 33-32. 3-Point Goals_Stony Brook 10-22 (Yeboah 5-10, Latimer 3-5, Garcia 2-3, Cornish 0-2, Olaniyi 0-2), South Carolina 9-23 (Campbell 4-7, Lawson 3-8, Haase 1-2, Gravett 1-2, Minaya 0-2, Bryant 0-2). Fouled Out: None. Rebounds: Stony Brook 40 (Yeboah 11), South Carolina 27 (Minaya, Haase 9). Assists: Stony Brook 15 (Cornish 8), South Carolina 18 (Lawson 6). Total Fouls: Stony Brook 22, South Carolina 21. Attendance: 9,657 (18,000).