Junior guard Jerell Matthews looks to make a pass in a game against Albany. Matthews’ three-point shooting helped the Seawolves topple the Catamounts 55-49. KARINA GERRY/THE STATESMAN

Stony Brook Women’s Basketball won its fifth consecutive matchup against the Vermont Catamounts 55-49 on Sunday, continuing on its late-season surge and officially clinching the fourth seed in the America East tournament.

Stony Brook was originally picked eighth out of the nine teams in the conference in the America East Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll.

Junior guards Shania Johnson and Jerell Matthews put on yet another crucial performance for the Seawolves. Johnson led the way in the second half with 13 points off six field goals, along with four assists in three rebounds. Matthews hit a crucial three-pointer with 45 seconds left in the first quarter to close a Vermont lead to six. She would go on to play an even bigger role in the second quarter, as she had four straight points to bring her team within three with 5:02 left in the half.

Matthews’ three-point shooting would come in handy toward the end of the second quarter, as she nailed a shot from beyond the arc that ignited an 8-0 run to end the first half. The Seawolves would go into the locker room with a three-point lead, and not relinquish it for the remainder of the game.

Head coach Caroline McCombs was satisfied with her team’s effort throughout the matchup, especially in the defensive category.

 “I thought our group really grinded this game out today,” McCombs said in a press release. “We had to keep working together to keep our offense going, but it was our defensive effort that really came on strong in the second and third quarters that gave us some momentum. I’m proud of the way we stayed focused, and were able to overcome adversity on the road.”

Stony Brook forced Vermont to just five points in the second quarter, the second-lowest amount an opponent has had in a single quarter all season. The team had previously forced UMBC to just four points in a victory on Jan. 31.

Stony Brook led Vermont in all defensive categories throughout the game. The team picked up 10 total steals against the Catamounts, five in each of the halves. Junior forward Cheyenne Clark and freshman forward India Pagan both came away with two blocks each in the game while Vermont only had one.

Defensive rebounding has been a crucial element for Stony Brook all season. The team walked away from the game with 29 defensive boards compared to Vermont’s 24. Stony Brook is now third in the America East in defensive rebounds per game with 25.

The Seawolves put on a dominant display in the paint, out-scoring the Catamounts 34-22. Pagan put on a strong showing with 12 points, four rebounds and three assists. Clark posted a game-high 17 rebound game to go along with her four points. Her 17 boards, however, still didn’t match her season-high of 23 against Yale on Dec. 6.

The team notched a season-best 100 percent free-throw shooting in the final regular-season matchup. Stony Brook nailed a total of seven free-throw attempts, its third lowest of the season. Pagan, senior guard Aaliyah Worley and Johnson were the only three Seawolves to make it to the charity stripe. Pagan led the way with four makes, Worley followed with two and Johnson nailed one after her and-one attempt with 16 seconds left in the first half.

Stony Brook will be in action next in the America East tournament quarterfinals as the team travels north to face off against Maine on March 3. The teams had previously split their two meetings this year, with the Seawolves coming up as the victors in their most recent matchup on Feb. 11. The Seawolves are headed into the tournament riding their longest winning streak of the season.