As a heavy underdog facing No. 2 Maine in the America East Tournament semifinals, No. 3 Stony Brook Women’s Basketball orchestrated a thrilling 15-point comeback, only to lose on the final possession, 51-48, on Sunday.
Down three points with 17 seconds remaining in the game, the Seawolves had three chances to tie the game with a 3-pointer — two by junior guard Christa Scognamiglio and one by junior guard Kori Bayne-Walker at the buzzer — only to have all three rim out. Stony Brook was unable to force overtime and Maine escaped Binghamton University, the host of the tournament, with a victory.
“We’ve been working on our sideline out of bound plays,” Stony Brook head coach Caroline McCombs said. “We could have gotten a quick two as well but we [went] for the three and got the long rebound, and we continued to get those rebounds for second shots. So I am happy with the shots that we got. We work on those a lot and they fall down for us. Tonight, that didn’t happen.”
The Seawolves mounted a substantial comeback in the game, as the team trailed 27-12 early in the second quarter to a Black Bears team that went 15-1 in the America East regular season. An 8-3 run by Stony Brook in the second quarter cut the deficit to 28-20 at halftime.
Senior guard Kim Hanlon scored seven points off the bench in the first half for Stony Brook, including two 3-pointers that helped the Seawolves stay within range when the Black Bears threatened to pull away.
In the second half, defense keyed the Stony Brook upset effort, as Maine shot just 4-for-15 from the field in the third quarter. The Seawolves shot 10-for-13 in the quarter, as the team outscored the Black Bears 20-9 in the frame to take a 40-37 lead entering the fourth quarter.
“We have to play with fire just like we did for 20 more minutes — possession by possession,” McCombs said. “We have to take care of the ball, we have to get good shots, we have to continue to attack. I thought we came out and were the aggressors in the second half.”
Senior forward Brittany Snow, in what was her final game with the Seawolves, scored eight of her 14 points in the third quarter in the rally effort. The team fed off the captain’s energy, particularly after Snow blocked a layup attempt from Maine junior guard Sigi Koizar, a first-team All-America East selectee, with 2:24 remaining in the third quarter.
Freshman forward Ogechi Anyagaligbo earned her second consecutive double-double, recording 12 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. She and Snow played well under the basket for Stony Brook, as the Seawolves led 24-20 in points in the paint.
Stony Brook was able to maintain its lead through much of the fourth quarter. With 4:18 left in the game, Scognamiglio knocked down a pair of free throws to give the Seawolves a 48-46 lead.
At the other end of the floor, Koizar answered as she buried an open 3-point attempt, three of her 15 points in the game, to put Maine up 49-48.
The Stony Brook offense fell flat, failing to score in the final four minutes of the game, despite multiple unguarded opportunities.
Stony Brook opened its America East Women’s Basketball Tournament quarterfinal game on an offensive tear against No. 6 Hartford.
Behind hot 3-point shooting, the Seawolves opened the second quarter on a 14-2 run to take a 27-10 lead that they would never look back from, as the team won its playoff game 60-42 over the Hawks on Friday afternoon.
Stony Brook started the game off by making five of its first six 3-point attempts, including a pair from both Scognamiglio and sophomore guard Aaliyah Worley. The offensive surge was a welcome sign for a Seawolves team that had struggled with 3-pointers of late.
McCombs’s team made only 11 of 60 attempts from beyond the arc over their previous four games — all losses.
Meanwhile, Hartford had difficulties making anything from the field in the game, particularly in the first half. The Hawks scored only 14 first-half points, shooting 5-for-25 in the first two quarters of action, as the Seawolves defenders did not allow many open shots.
Anyagaligbo, was a force on the defensive end for Stony Brook, one day after being named America East Rookie of the Year. The Florida native locked down the paint for the Seawolves, blocking three shots.
Anyagaligbo thrived in a matchup with Hartford sophomore forward Darby Lee, the Hawks’ leading scorer and an All-America East Third Team selectee. Lee shot a lowly 1-for-13 from the field, scoring a season-low two points, as the freshman shut her down throughout the game.
Anyagaligbo had 10 points and 10 rebounds in the game, notching her eighth double-double of the season.
Snow scored 20 points for the Seawolves, including 13 in the second half. After Hartford cut the Seawolves’ lead to 34-25 midway through the third quarter, looking to come back, Snow sparked a 24-7 run by Stony Brook to take a 58-32 lead and slam the door. The captain scored eight points on the Seawolves’ run, pushing the game’s margin to an insurmountable amount.
The Seawolves committed 16 turnovers in the contest, compared with nine by the Hawks, but the insecurity with the basketball was mitigated by a strong team field goal percentage. Stony Brook led Hartford in shooting in the game, 55.0 percent to 30.9 percent.
As the season concludes for the Seawolves, the team will look to move on next season in the absence of its four graduating seniors, most notably Snow — the team’s leading scorer and a second-team All-America East player.
“Brittany’s [Snow] just one of those players that, and I’ve said it since the beginning of the year, you don’t know what you’re going to miss until she’s gone because she’s just been that rock, she’s been so stable for us,” McCombs said. “We depend on her. Whether she scores or not, she has a presence on the floor, her teammates feed off of her energy. She never takes a possession off.”
Featured image credit: Steve McLaughlin