Halftime is a time for inspiration, reflection and a chance for coaches and athletes to prepare themselves for the rest of the game. For one team, it’s a time to focus on defense and continue their path to victory. For the other team, it’s a time to build up morale and prepare for one final push towards victory.
In their first America East Conference action of the season, the Stony Brook women’s basketball team played the role of the latter team to perfection by sweeping their weekend series against the Binghamton Bearcats at Island Federal Arena on Dec. 19 and 20, thanks to two massive third quarters.
In addition to being their first conference matchups, this was also their first series with the new back-to-back format that had been put into place for this season. On Oct. 19, 2020, the America East Conference announced that in order to reduce travel in lieu of the COVID-19 pandemic, conference games would be played in back-to-back weekend series throughout the season.
This new format did not affect the Seawolves, who used the momentum from their big Battle of Long Island win at home against the Hofstra Pride on Monday, Dec. 14. Additionally, it was the first time that the Seawolves had played the Bearcats since last season’s conference semifinal on March 3, 2020.
The first game of this weekend’s series, a 61-52 victory, was made possible by a massive third quarter in which Stony Brook scored 23 points compared to the 11 points by Binghamton. It followed a first half which saw the Seawolves make a nice run early on before falling to a point behind the Bearcats at halftime.
Considering Binghamton had 11 steals while Stony Brook had 17 turnovers at this point, things could have been a lot worse. However, the Seawolves were able to correct these mistakes, allowing only one more steal and three more turnovers the rest of the game.
The Seawolves came out of halftime strong, holding the Bearcats scoreless for the first four and a half minutes of that period. During that time, sophomore guard Gigi Gonzalez and junior forward India Pagan both hit clutch buckets to pull the Seawolves ahead.
This important third quarter was capped off with a three-pointer from junior guard Earlette Scott with two seconds remaining. It was the third three of the quarter as the Seawolves finished the game with a 39% three-point shooting percentage. Scott led the team with 15 points.
Senior forward Leighah-Amori Wool, a Western Michigan transfer, made her debut for Stony Brook by coming off the bench. She led the team with eight rebounds and three steals while also scoring five points.
On the other side of the court, senior forward Kaylee Wasco led the Bearcats in scoring and rebounding by getting 15 points and eight rebounds.
“I thought we played well in spurts today,” head coach Caroline McCombs said in a press release. “We are still working to put a full game together and that will come as we continue playing games.”
Speaking of spurts, Stony Brook started their Sunday matinee game, a 55-47 win, in a more quiet fashion. In the first quarter, Binghamton outscored them 10-8 with Stony Brook only scoring via free throws for most of the quarter. Their first field goal came from junior guard Asiah Dingle with 4 and a half minutes left — she went on to lead the team with 14 points.
Stony Brook turned the tables and narrowly outscored Binghamton 18-17 in the second quarter, despite the Bearcats leading by as much as 10. Nevertheless, like the previous game, the Seawolves were a point behind at halftime.
Their halftime preparations and reflections proved worthwhile yet again, as Stony Brook came out on the other side with a massive third quarter for their second consecutive game. This time, they held Binghamton to just seven points while scoring 17. The quarter started with an 8-0 run with Pagan scoring six of those points. Pagan ended with 10 points, joining junior forward Nairimar Vargas-Reyes, who also had 10, as well as Dingle, who was the other Seawolf in double digits.
This marked Stony Brook’s seventh straight victory against Binghamton, a streak that started almost two years ago on Jan. 9, 2019. The Seawolves have been especially lethal against the Bearcats at home, where their overall head-to-head record stands at 17-11.
Stony Brook improved to 4-2 (2-0 AE) with this sweep while Binghamton has yet to record a single victory this season, falling to 0-4 (0-2 AE). The Seawolves will be traveling to Massachusetts for their series against UMass Lowell next Sunday and Monday, Dec. 27 and 28.
Stony Brook’s last game against the River Hawks came back in February of this year, where the Seawolves crushed them 89-69. The Seawolves will be looking to continue their four-game winning streak.