The Stony Brook women’s basketball team managed to retain a last-minute lead against the UMass Lowell River Hawks with a score of 63-60 in the America East matchup on Thursday, Feb. 8.
“It was great to come out on top in a close road battle,” head coach Caroline McCombs said in a press release. “Thankfully, we made the key plays at the end of the game to close it out.”
With about a minute remaining in the game, senior forward Kayla Gibbs converted both free throws to put the River Hawks up 60-59. The Seawolves looked to junior guard Jerell Matthews to put the team up by two with a mid-range jumper, but she missed. Fortunately for the team, senior guard Aaliyah Worley was in position to grab the rebound to give the Seawolves a second opportunity. With 35 seconds left, junior guard Shania Johnson passed inside to junior forward Cheyenne Clark for a layup to take the lead and the game.
Clark was one of the team leaders in the game, dominating the boards and performing well inside the paint. She finished the game with 12 points and 13 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season.
“She is relentless on the glass,” McCombs said in an interview with ESPN. “We actually watched film before the game today and we were really trying to help her understand all of the good things that she does for our team so she carried that into the game tonight.”
The Seawolves began the game on a 13-6 run, forcing the River Hawks to call a timeout with 4:47 remaining in the first quarter. Coming out of the timeout, the UMass Lowell strategy revolved around giving Gibbs the ball inside the paint.
The forward was unstoppable down low, hitting a bucket with 15 seconds left before halftime to tie the game at 35. Gibbs finished the game with 21 points, 16 coming from the first half. She also grabbed nine rebounds and recorded three assists. Her teammate, redshirt-junior guard Brianna Rudolph, recorded her first career double-double, scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
Both teams traded leads back and forth to start the second half until a jump shot by Matthews from just inside the arc connected to start an eight-point run for the Seawolves to end the third quarter.
Matthews led the Seawolves with 15 points, followed by Clark with 12. Worley and freshman forward India Pagan finished the game with 10 points each. Johnson struggled to score, going 3-15 in the game but recorded nine rebounds and led the team with eight assists.
With the victory, the Seawolves are now 10-0 all-time against the River Hawks in Division I action. Stony Brook is now tied for fifth in the America East with a conference record of 6-6 and has four conference games remaining to close out the season.
Stony Brook will return home to face off against the No. 1-ranked Maine Black Bears on Sunday, Feb. 11 at 2 p.m. at Island Federal Credit Union Arena. The team will host the “Box Out Breast Cancer” event and wear special pink jerseys for Breast Cancer Awareness.