Junior guard Gigi Gonzalez in a game against Delaware State on Nov. 9. The Seawolves are off to a 4-0 start to their season. KAT PROCACCI/THE STATESMAN

The Stony Brook women’s basketball pulled off one of the biggest upsets in program history this week with its 53-44 defeat of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, a No. 6 seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament. At 4-0, the Seawolves are off to their best start since 2017.

Stony Brook came into the Nov. 16 road matchup with an all-time record of 1-10 against Big Ten teams. The lone win came in 2018 against Penn State. With Rutgers entering at an unbeaten 3-0, nobody would have blamed the Seawolves for playing scared.

But they did not, playing instead like they had something to prove. 

“I am really proud of this team and how they pushed through mentally and physically to go out there and compete to get a good win on the road,” head coach Ashley Langford said in a postgame press conference. “It’s tough to come to Rutgers — a historic program — and they’re tough. It was a grind. I am really proud of our resiliency and our ability to mentally push through it and walk out of here today with the upper hand.”

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The game started sluggish, being that it was both teams’ third game in five days and had an 11 a.m. start time. It was no surprise that Rutgers led only 8-7 after the first quarter and 21-19 at the half. The Seawolves could get nothing going on offense in the first 20 minutes of play, shooting a combined 27% from the field, which was still not as bad as Rutgers’ 26.4%.

The glaring difference on the stat sheet in the first half was Rutgers out-rebounding Stony Brook 9-1 on the offensive glass. 

It was clear which team woke up after the intermission. The Seawolves outscored the Scarlet Knights 16-8 in the third quarter and gained a lead they would not give up. A buzzer-beating 3-pointer off the glass by junior guard Gigi Gonzalez capped this run off.

Gonzalez did it all for her team in this matchup, scoring 13 points and shooting 2-for-5 from 3-point range, as well as recording five assists and three steals. Though she filled up the stat sheet, arguably her most impressive stat of the afternoon was her two blocks, as she stands at only 5-foot-7. 

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The only Seawolf to outscore Gonzalez in this matchup was senior guard Annie Warren. Despite being held scoreless in the first half, Warren came alive after the break, scoring all of her game-leading 15 points in the second half. She also added on an assist, a steal and a block while shooting 3-for-6 from 3-point range in her standout performance.

Rutgers acting head coach Timothy Eatman, filling in for C. Vivian Stringer, tried everything to slow down Stony Brook, giving all 14 active players rotational minutes in the contest. This tactic benefited them to a degree, seeing as bench players made up for 29 of the team’s 44 total points.

This change helped cut Stony Brook’s lead to only eight with under four minutes remaining, but a corner 3-pointer by Warren stuffed the dagger deeper into the Scarlet Knights. Stony Brook led by as much as 15 points with 1:54 left in the fourth quarter.

Rutgers may have outrebounded Stony Brook 42-27, but the Seawolves made five more threes, including three big ones when it counted in the final frame.

The Seawolves have now beaten an opponent in a Power Five conference in three of the last four seasons, also having upset the Pittsburgh Panthers of the Atlantic Coast Conference 59-56 in 2019.

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“We’ll give credit where credit is due,” Eatman said. “Stony Brook played like a veteran team and they played like a team that had just played in the NCAA Tournament. They played hard and ran their plays well while taking away our lanes. We’re still learning how to play together, and we’re committed to doing the things we need to do to be a better basketball team.”

With two consecutive wins over big-name schools, Stony Brook is living up to the preseason hype it was given. The Seawolves hope to carry the energy as they attempt to extend their win streak against the Iona Gaels on Saturday, Nov. 20.

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