Emotions for Stony Brook Women’s Basketball were soaring as the team prepared for the Vermont Catamounts in its final 2018-19 regular season contest. The Seawolves, who were hosting only their second season closer since 2012, knew it would be their last with the offensively explosive tandem of senior guards Shania ‘“Shorty” Johnson and Jerell Matthews. While some athletes would fold under the pressure of high expectations, the veteran frontcourt capped off their regular season careers with what they did best — offensive dominance.
“We just wanted to come out hard and stay focused,” Matthews said. “Vermont is a good team so we wanted to give them everything we got.”
Johnson and Matthews commanded the scoreboard once again by knocking down shots and dishing out passes, combining for 29 points and five assists. The performance helped Stony Brook conclude the season with a 58-48 victory, solidifying its third seed position in the America East standings with an 11-5 conference record.
“We just went out there and we played hard,” Johnson said. “We went hard every second of the game and told each other we have got to go hard for each other. We just play together.”
Both teams traded scores opening the contest, but senior forward Candice Wright earned five consecutive points and put Vermont up 12-11 entering the first media timeout. While it seemed like the Catamounts would expand on a larger scoring run, Stony Brook responded with strong offensive rebounding and converted
Bushee, alongside redshirt-sophomore forward Kina Smith and sophomore guard Hailey Zeise, dominated cleaning up the glass and finding open teammates. The trio combined for seven of Stony Brook’s 12 offensive rebounds while only surrendering three in the first half. The Seawolves held their rival to just five offensive rebounds and finished the game by grabbing a season-high 52 total boards.
“We talk about rebounding a lot,” head coach Caroline McCombs said. “I don’t think we have just one player that is an exceptional rebounder. I think we have a team of rebounders to really get to the ball today.”
Stony Brook never looked back after the first quarter, holding Vermont to just 15 combined over the next two quarters while scoring 21 in the third.
The America East announced the two teams will rematch opening the quarterfinals on Wednesday, March 6. While Stony Brook has won four consecutive matchups between the two, it has failed to advance past the first round since 2015. Despite this, McCombs believes the team can overcome and outlast the competition.
“[We need to] hit the replay button,” McCombs said. “Executing, on offense and defense, our game plan and staying focused and staying ready. This is what you work so hard for in preseason and all the months is to be preparing for this postseason opportunity so we are thankful to be playing at home and we are going to take it possession by possession.”
Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.