Before traveling up to Portland, Maine for the America East Conference tournament, the Stony Brook women’s basketball team had two more opponents to face. Both games would be at the Island Federal Credit Union Arena, and the results of both matchups would determine the team’s seed for the tournament.
The Seawolves started off very strong. With four players scoring in double figures, they held the UMBC Retrievers to 10 points in the first half and a total of 37 points in a 51-37 victory on Thursday afternoon.
“I was really excited with our start today,” head coach Caroline McCombs said. “I thought we came out with a lot of energy, attacking them early on and getting that lead on our home court.”
Stony Brook played hard right from the tip. UMBC called a timeout five minutes into the first after Stony Brook opened a 12-0 run. The Retrievers would go on to score six points in those remaining five minutes, but the second quarter was where the frustration built up.
With 4:59 left in the first half, Retrievers head coach Phil Stern called a full timeout to try and get his players back in the game, as they were down 21-6 at that point. After the timeout, his team missed two layups and Stony Brook senior guard Christa Scognamiglio drained a three to add onto UMBC’s deficit.
Stern called a 30 second timeout, took his players and staff off the bench to the court, stared at all of them without saying a word, and put his bench players in.
“I think we had a lot of momentum in our favor since the Binghamton game,” Scognamiglio said. “We’ve been more relaxed and playing together as a team and had a lot of confidence.”
This has been a difficult stretch for Stony Brook. After going on a two-game winning streak with wins over Maine and UMass Lowell, the team slid into a six-game losing streak.
It was over a month before the team got another win at Island Federal Credit Union Arena, and McCombs knew that her players were going out there not only to play and win, but to have fun.
“We always try and go out there and have fun,” McCombs said. “But when you get stuck not being in the win column, you can start to look at things in a negative way. So in practice, we have been focusing on our positive energy and just trying to bring each other up.”
One person made the most of her time on the court. Sophomore center Ayshia Baker had a career day, putting in a career-high 11 points and tied her career best with six rebounds.
Baker pushed the fast break after a Scognamiglio steal and beat her defender to get to the basket for two to push the lead to 45-31. She could not have made McCombs more proud with her games.
“Everything,” McCombs said on what Baker has improved on. “It takes a while for post players to adjust at this level. She’s learned so much in such a short period of time and then having the experience on the court helps her as well.”
On Sunday afternoon, the Seawolves had two opponents: the Vermont Catamounts and emotion. The emotion came from senior day, as Stony Brook recognized Scognamiglio, senior guard Kori Bayne-Walker, senior forward Elizabeth Manner and senior forward Anamaria Skaro.
After being down by 15 with four minutes left in the second quarter, Bayne-Walker tied the game with a three pointer a minute into the fourth quarter at 43-43, nearly completing a comeback.
However, the Seawolves’ offense halted after that basket, as that three pointer was the only points scored in the fourth quarter. The Catamounts went on to win the final game of the regular season 57-43.
“I thought Vermont had a good game plan, defensively,” McCombs said. “I thought we struggled a bit offensively for a while. I thought we got in a rhythm, but then we gave them extra points by them doing very little. I just thought we went ice cold in the fourth quarter.”
Stony Brook went on a 5-0 run throughout the third and fourth quarters to help tie the game. Freshman guard Giolibeth Perez ran a two-on-one fast break with Bayne-Walker, faked out the defender with a fake pass and scored an easy layup to cut the lead to 43-40.
Bayne-Walker’s three pointer to open the fourth quarter tied the game at 43, but the Seawolves missed the final nine field goal attempts, including their final five three point attempts.
The first quarter was a difficult one for Stony Brook. With pregame senior day festivities still on their mind, the team did not make their shots. The Seawolves’ missed three pointers would be missed completely, free throws would spin around the rim and fall out and layups would not fall.
Stony Brook could not stop Vermont sophomore forward Candice Wright, who scored a career-high 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting, including 4-of-6 from three-point range.
The team will now have the rest of the week off before heading up to Portland, Maine for the America East Tournament. Stony Brook is the eighth seed and will play No. 1 New Hampshire.
“We told them everyone is 0-0,” McCombs said. “This is the start of our second season. I thought we played New Hampshire really well the first time at their place and here for three quarters. It’s a team that is very good, but hopefully one we can matchup well against.”