Senior guard Jerell Matthews with the ball in a game against the New Paltz Hawks on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. When the team faced Albany on Wednesday, she drained two shots from three and two free throws in the first quarter. SASHA ROSIN/THE STATESMAN

Senior guard Jerell Matthews flashed signs of hardwood superiority in her first game back from injury for the Stony Brook women’s basketball team on Wednesday, Jan. 23. Sporting a wrap on her shooting hand, Matthews earned a team-high 14 points against Albany and contributed in cutting a 13-point deficit to one in the fourth quarter. Despite her best efforts, the Seawolves ultimately fell to the Great Danes 54-49.

“I thought we showed a lot of fight in the fourth quarter, but we just came up short tonight,” head coach Caroline McCombs said in a press release. “We have to get out to a better start at the beginning of the game to not put ourselves in that position.”

Matthews played an essential role in kindling a fire under Stony Brook after Albany pummeled the Seawolves’ defense en route to a 15-2 run in the first quarter. The senior drained two shots from three and two free throws in the quarter, resulting in an 18-12 score.

Both teams played in a tensely heated atmosphere throughout the night and combined for 36 personal fouls. The competitive nature peaked when tempers flared between starting point guards — UAlbany junior Khepera Stokes and Stony Brook senior Shania “Shorty” Johnson — with a minute remaining in the third quarter. A hard check from Stokes resulted in punches traded and their immediate ejections from the game.

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Trailing 43-33 at the time, a Stony Brook comeback attempt seemed bleak with the loss of its leading overall offensive producer. However, the Seawolves were determined to stay in the contest and sophomore forward India Pagan banked a jumpshot in the paint at the buzzer, cutting the deficit to five points.

Sophomore guard Chantz Cherry brought Stony Brook within one following a fastbreak layup, but UAlbany extended the advantage to five with three and a half minutes left in the game. Pagan and sophomore forward McKenzie Bushee countered with shots inside, making the score 49-48 with under two minutes remaining. Sophomore guard Hailey Zeise had the best chance at handing the Seawolves their first lead, yet her and Bushee missed a few open looks in the paint before junior guard Kumsal Aslan drained a 3-pointer, securing the victory for Albany.

Albany sophomore guard Kyara Frames converted two free throws which gave the Great Danes a 29-17 advantage midway through the second quarter. Frames led the game with 17 points, five assists and four steals. She and Matthews were the only two players who performed for the game’s duration.

Stony Brook will return to action on the road against Vermont on Saturday, Jan. 26 at 2 p.m.

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