Just as the Knicks guard comes off the bench to provide an offensive jolt, so does the Seawolves' senior guard.
Rouse matched his season high of 16 points as Stony Brook beat Eastern Illinois, 66-52, yesterday in Pritchard Gymnasium. He shot 5-of-9 from the floor, including 4-of-6 from three-point range, in 24 minutes.
"That's my role," Rouse said. "Coach [Steve Pikiell] wants me to provide instant offense, so that's what I try to do."
Rouse had a personal 8-0 run to give Stony Brook (6-2) a 33-24 lead at halftime. But the Seawolves found themselves clinging to a 50-49 lead with 5:57 to play. An 11-0 run in the next 4:42, including Rouse's three-pointer from the right wing, put the game away.
"That was an old fashioned, grind-it-out win," Pikiell said. "We really did a great job making big plays down the stretch."
Stony Brook also played stifling defense, holding Eastern Illinois (3-6) to 34 percent shooting, while making seven steals and blocking seven shots. The Seawolves were also 16-of-17 from the free-throw line.
Anthony Jackson scored 13 points, Dave Coley had nine points and four steals, and Tommy Brenton had seven points, 11 rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Brenton is four rebounds from becoming the school's all-time leader in that category. The senior has 903 career boards.
Stony Brook wrapped up a stretch of four games in eight days in which it went 3-1, with the only loss coming at UConn. The Seawolves, who'll next play at home on Jan. 5, now have a nine-day layoff before kicking off a five-game road trip at St. Francis (N.Y.).
Pikiell called the road trip, which includes games at Maryland, Seton Hall and Sacred Heart (which beat Stony Brook on Nov. 18), "the toughest stretch in the history of our program."
"I think this road trip coming up is going to be a good test for us to see how well we really can play," Brenton said. "We have a lot of preparation time, so we'll get a lot of film sessions in on the teams coming up and be able to tell who we really are going into conference play."
Rouse knows exactly who he is -- an offensive catalyst off the bench. And Pikiell seems to be putting more faith in him of late. After playing no more than 14 minutes in any of the first six games, Rouse has played 25 and 24 in the last two. In those two games, he has 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting.
Said Pikiell: "You have a senior in Marcus Rouse who comes off the bench, and last game he was our best defender, and then this game he scored points and was ready to play."