As is becoming the norm, the Stony Brook women’s basketball team spent nearly the entire second half running down the clock in its 72-60 defeat of the St. John’s Red Storm on Sunday, Nov. 14 at Island Federal Arena.
Already up by 11 at halftime, senior guard Annie Warren and junior guard Gigi Gonzalez opened the third quarter with back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Seawolves (3-0) a 47-31 lead, Gonzalez’s coming despite a midair deflection. Stony Brook led by at least 10 points for the rest of the game, including by 21 points late in the fourth quarter, and finished 9-for-15 from 3-point range.
Warren led the team with 19 points and graduate forward Leighah-Amori Wool added 14, tying her career high.
It was the first time that Stony Brook had defeated a Big East opponent since Providence in 2004. The Seawolves had not beaten St. John’s since 2001.
Plenty of other Seawolves popped off the stat sheet — sophomore forward Kelis Corley had five assists in the first half and graduate forward India Pagan had nine rebounds — but visually, nothing stood out more than the team’s physicality.
Wool’s four offensive rebounds often came as she was sandwiched between two St. John’s defenders, and junior guard Gigi Gonzalez repeatedly stood her ground against larger players to draw charging fouls. The Red Storm certainly felt the Seawolves’ pressure — after Wool wedged her way inside for a third-quarter layup, senior forward Danielle Cosgrove slammed the ball in frustration.
“It’s been a very big stressor for me to go offensive rebound, especially in practice,” Wool said in a postgame press conference. “They tell me every day because sometimes I catch myself watching.”
With 2:30 remaining in the first quarter, Wool shoved aside two defenders to drive to the basket and give Stony Brook a 16-14 lead they would maintain the rest of the way.
Up by three points in the second quarter, senior guard Earlette Scott went on a tear to keep Stony Brook’s momentum going. In under a minute, she drained a jumper, a 3-pointer and two foul shots.
The Seawolves rode Warren’s hot hand from there, turning to her for 12 of their 13 fourth-quarter points.
“My teammates trust me and I trust them,” Warren said. “So they realized that I was making shots and they just kept coming to me, and I was ready for it.”
The Seawolves’ speed was often on display, with Gonzalez in particular often dribbling faster than defenders could run. But their ball-handling couldn’t always keep pace, leading to an abundance of travel calls that killed Stony Brook’s momentum multiple times during the fourth quarter — some more questionable than others.
“I mean, if the refs call it, I guess it was a travel,” head coach Ashley Langford said. “I’m not gonna argue with a ref. Now [the players] understand how important footwork is and putting the left foot down.”
With a game at Rutgers on the horizon, Stony Brook will embark on its first road trip with an undefeated record and the cheery mentality of a team with limitless potential. The Scarlet Knights may have been a six seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament, but that does not faze the Seawolves.
“I think we definitely have a [positive atmosphere],” Wool said. “Everyone is cheering for the next person regardless because Division I basketball is very competitive. And I believe that is going to help us stay on this winning streak.”