Stony Brook Women’s Basketball junior forward Cheyenne Clark had her best game since joining the Seawolves in the team’s 69-50 win over Wagner on Sunday afternoon.
The recent transfer from Mohawk Valley Community College was a force to be reckoned with on the offensive glass, snatching five offensive rebounds in the game. On one possession, Clark showcased her presence inside by rebounding two of her own missed shots in a row before drawing a foul and hitting both attempts from the line.
Clark was dominant on both ends of the court for the Seawolves, finishing with a season-high 15 points and 12 rebounds for the team’s first double-double of the season. After the game, she credited her overall performance to her tenacity on the boards.
“It was just about getting to the glass, getting whatever I could do offensively, defensively, to get us second chances,” Clark said. “Anything to get our offense going.”
Clark’s defense was a huge factor in Stony Brook’s win. Her hustle getting down the court prevented Wagner from getting easy shots in transition, and she came away with four steals and two blocks to show for her efforts.
“I take pride in defense first and foremost,” Clark said. “Our offense is based off our defense, so if I can get as many stops as possible. It’s going to get us going on offense. It’s going to keep my teammates going and make good offense on the court.”
Clark anchored a strong team defense that managed to hold Wagner to 37.5 percent shooting from the court on the afternoon. After giving up 12 points on 6-12 shooting to the Seahawks in the first frame, the Seawolves lowered their opponent’s shooting percentage each quarter. By the final frame, Wagner hit just four of 16 shots for a dismal 25 percent mark.
Stony Brook’s dominance inside helped them pound the paint on offense. The team outscored Wagner 40-28 inside with the help of a career-high 12 points from freshman forward India Pagan.
The Seawolves’ defense also kept the Seahawks from gaining any serious momentum on the offensive end. Wagner never scored more than six straight points before Stony Brook ended the run with a score of its own.
“We just try to focus on our defense every day,” head coach Caroline McCombs said. “We focus on getting stops possession by possession so we just continue to work on that every day.”
Junior guard Shania Johnson, also a transfer student, finished just behind Clark with 14 points on the night, including 12 from deep. The 5’ 1” guard from Monroe College grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists, second-most on the team behind sophomore guard Giolibeth Perez.
Johnson and Clark have made immediate impacts as transfer students. The pair have started every game for the Seawolves this season, and are second and fourth in minutes played for the team through five games.
While McCombs said judging how a transfer student will perform at Stony Brook can be difficult, she also said Clark and Johnson’s skillsets are both tailor-made for the Seawolves’ style of play.
“You never know, bringing in a transfer, how quickly they can adapt to your program,” McCombs said. “I think those two have done a really good job. They were really good fits for what we needed and they’ve been able to come in and just compete from day one and continue to understand the things that we’re trying to do offensively and defensively.”
Stony Brook surrendered six straight to Wagner to start the game before coming back to take an 11-10 lead on a layup from Clark with 3:26 left in the first quarter. The Seawolves never relinquished the lead after that point, and a 23-point second quarter effectively ended the Seahawks’ comeback chances before the second half even began.
Sunday’s win over Wagner gives Stony Brook five straight victories to start the season. After entering their 2017-18 campaign ranked eighth out of nine teams in the America East preseason poll, the Seawolves have advanced to their first ever 5-0 start in Division I history. The team’s hot start has caught many by surprise, but McCombs and her team are keeping their heads down and focusing on working day to day.
“We really never talked about where we started out, those rankings and things like that,” McCombs said. “We just pound the stone every day, we come to practice, we work to get better. We just commit to that, and that’s our process and we’ll continue to do that throughout the season.”
Stony Brook will look to win its sixth straight game on the road against Cornell on Friday, Dec 1. Gametime is set for 7 p.m. at the Newman Arena in Ithaca.