NEW YORK (AP) — Myles Mack was in Rutgers’ starting lineup for the first time this season. The freshman guard turned it into a positive in a hurry.
The 5-foot-9 product of St. Anthony High School had a season-high 22 points to lead the Scarlet Knights to a 67-58 victory over cold-shooting Stony Brook on Saturday in the Holiday Festival at Madison Square Garden.
“Coach decided to bring me off the bench,” Myles said. “I tried to be a spark and to lead the team and keep it going from there. I responded well and had a great game.”
Myles sounded almost nonchalant about the move, but he wasn’t that way right after the game.
“It was his turn,” Rutgers coach Mike Rice said of his playing his three freshmen guards. “I want to see how they respond and he responded really well, so he’s on the bench again. When I told him that after the game he was like ‘What? Come on?’ I told him we’ll talk about it.”
Mack said the time on the bench allowed him to watch the game for a while.
“I saw from the bench what was going on and see what I could fix and we fixed it,” he said.
When asked what needed fixing he said: “We needed to get in transition more often. That’s the way we play. We had to run some of the sets all the way through and get the ball to the guys who should have it. I get the ball and go. It’s really hard to stop us in transition because we have fast guards.”
Gilvydas Biruta had 13 points and freshman Eli Carter added 11 for the Scarlet Knights (6-5), who won away from home for the first time this season. They had lost one true road game and two neutral-site games.
Sophomore Dave Coley had a career-high 17 points to lead the Seawolves (3-6), who have lost four of their last five. It was Stony Brook’s first appearance in Madison Square Garden since the program moved to Division I in 1999-2000.
“This was a great opportunity for us,” Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell said. “Size does make a difference and their speed and quickness hurt us as well.”
Rutgers used an 11-0 run to take a 27-14 lead with 3:00 left, but Stony Brook closed the half on a 9-2 run, hitting their first three 3-pointers of the game, to get within 31-26.
The Seawolves were 7 for 25 from the field (28 percent) in the first half, but they were worse from the field in the second half at 9 for 35 (25.7 percent) and they finished shooting 26.7 percent for the game.
“I didn’t think my guys were as excited as I thought they would be after the game,” Rice said, “but any time you hold a well-executing team to 28 percent, you should celebrate that fact. We found some baskets that kind of eased our tension so to speak at the offensive end. We grinded one out.”
Stony Brook got within 33-30 early in the second half. But Mack, who was 7 of 8 from the field, hit a 3 to start a 7-0 run, and Rutgers was able to stay in front by at least seven points the rest of the way.
Bryan Dougher, Stony Brook’s leading scorer with a 12.8 average, finished with 14 but was 4 of 16 from the field, including going 3 of 12 from 3-point range.
“I knew when we scheduled this game that Bryan was going to have a long night,” Pikiell said.
Dougher said he was well prepared for Rutgers’ defense but that didn’t matter.
“We kind of had an idea but you don’t get the hang of it until the game gets started,” he said. “We were excited all week about getting to play here and obviously we would have liked to shoot better. We had a good time but in fortunately we didn’t shoot well.”
Rutgers has won all three meetings between the schools.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.