The Stony Brook women’s basketball team lost a game on Thursday night because of a battle that they won. With momentum shifting back and forth all night, it was Hartford’s rebounding in the game’s critical moments that allowed the Hawks to come back and beat the Seawolves in the final minute, with Deanna Mayza hitting a confident pull-up jumpshot to seal the 60-58 win.
Stony Brook’s team prides itself on its toughness and grit, which comes in handy every game. This is especially evident in the effort that the entire team puts forth in the paint.
On average, the Seawolves have plucked 8.7 more rebounds off the boards per game than their America East opponents, right behind Albany for tops in the league. Yet, against a Hartford team that Stony Brook always dominates in the rebounding department, the Seawolves only won the battle by one board.
That was the difference down the stretch, and a key offensive rebound that led to Mayza’s game-winner forced Head Coach Caroline McCombs’ team to play from behind in the waning moments.
Senior Sabre Proctor, who came off the bench with only minutes left in the game after a long sit-down because of foul trouble, had a deep look from three-point range for the win. But, it would not fall for the team’s leading scorer.
One could argue that the ball was in the right person’s hands. A busted play on the team’s first attempt for the win forced McCombs to draw up a play with only seconds remaining, making Proctor’s shot rushed.
If Stony Brook overcame the seventh best rebounding squad in the conference by a moderate margin on the glass like they usually would, it would not have come down to that.
But, there were some bright spots, in that the Seawolves saw contributions from faces not seen in the spotlight quite as often, slightly alleviating the time Proctor spent on the bench.
Junior Kim Hanlon, always a shooting threat from the outside on spot-ups, was far more active in this game. She nailed three long-range shots in her 11 point night. That tied her career high as a Seawolf, and her six rebounds were key to keeping the Hawks’ athletic forwards off the glass more than they already were.
Sophomore Kori Bayne-Walker has shown time and time again that she is the team’s most dynamic get-to-the lane threat throughout her college career, and Thursday’s game was no different.
Much like the men’s team’s Carson Puriefoy, Bayne-Walker used her explosiveness to get into the paint and draw fouls, getting to the line over and over in her 11 point, seven assist performance. Despite all the statistics, something that will not show up in the post-game notes was a key review with 1:22 left just after Bayne-Walker missed two free throws.
Junior Brittany Snow, as she always seems to do, negotiated her way around a box-out and fought for the rebound, which was heading out of bounds. The referees called it Hartford ball on the floor. Despite it appearing that the Hawks defender touched it last during a video review, officials maintained that possession would stay with Hartford.
Sophomore Christa Scognamiglio hit a key three-point ball with less than a minute remaining to tie the game, but one could only wonder what kind of a role the possible missed call would have played.
“I can’t control those types of things,” McCombs said understandingly after the game. “I just ask that my players give great effort, and whoever’s hand the ball goes out on, we just go with the call.”
Snow did put forth the effort, and it seemed to give the Seawolves energy on the defensive end to get a stop which would later allow Scognamiglio a chance to tie the game in the first place.
Despite the tough loss, bringing the team to 4-4 halfway through conference play, McCombs was happy with some things.
“Proud of our effort,” the first-year Head Coach said. “I thought we competed throughout the whole game. [It was just] a couple plays, they made one more play at the end of the game and that’s all that you need.”
In a major tone-setting game for the rest of the year, Stony Brook beat UNH 60-52 on Sunday, taking a step in the right direction against a solid team. The Seawolves lost to UNH earlier in the season, but came out strong against the Wildcats on the defensive end.
A nine-point lead in hand with only moments remaining in the first half, the Seawolves made a few careless mistakes to let UNH stay in touch.
Bayne-Walker, who was key in driving through the Wildcats defense early on, attempted to save a ball heading out of bounds, instead tipping it to her opponent who scored. A three-pointer on the next possession, and UNH pulled within four at the half.
But, the Seawolves managed to regroup in the big conference matchup against the same team they beat in the America East semifinals last season.
Leading the way was sophomore sharpshooter Scognamiglio. As she has done all season long, the guard hit long-range shots when they mattered most.
On the game, Scognamiglio connected on 3-of-6 three-pointers for 15 points.
Three other Seawolves also reached double digits in what once again was a team effort, a common theme for this year’s Stony Brook team.
McCombs leads her squad to Burlington on Wednesday night for a 7 p.m. matchup at Vermont.