On the verge of suffering their first loss of the season, the Stony Brook women’s basketball team was able to pull away late to improve to 5-0 with their 53-46 road win against the Iona Gaels on Saturday, Nov. 20.
The Seawolves looked on their way to a dominant win with a 15-point halftime lead, but the Gaels found their stride offensively in the second half and cut the deficit to one point late in the fourth quarter.
“We had a good test today,” head coach Ashley Langford said in a press release. “Iona was physical, resilient and executed their game plan well. I am proud of our team’s defensive effort — it won us the game. I’m also very pleased with our ability to remain poised during the fourth quarter to get a road win.”
Stony Brook smothered Iona’s offense out of the gate and rode 75% 3-point shooting to a 19-5 first quarter lead. The Seawolves’ 19 points in the first frame matched their first half scoring output in their previous game against Rutgers.
The Seawolves extended their lead to 18 points three minutes into the second quarter, marking their largest lead of the game. Iona managed to get a few points back but went into the half trailing 30-15 with no signs of life.
The Gaels had a number of unfriendly rolls and shot only 22.2% from the field during the first half, but their shots finally started falling in the third quarter. Back-to-back 3-pointers to start the half forced a Stony Brook timeout and after a four-minute drought, the Gaels tacked on 10 more points to end the quarter down 41-31.
Both teams traded buckets to start the fourth quarter before a 3-pointer by senior guard Earlette Scott put the Seawolves back up by 10 with just under five minutes to play. Stony Brook suddenly went cold while the Gaels caught fire as a 9-0 Iona run cut the Seawolves’ lead to 47-46 with two minutes left.
Each team missed a 3-point attempt before graduate forward India Pagan made one of two attempts from the free-throw line to put the Seawolves up two with 42 seconds left. The Gaels committed a costly turnover on their ensuing possession, allowing the Seawolves to milk the clock down to 14 seconds when graduate forward Leighah-Amori Wool drained a corner three to ice the game with a five-point lead.
Wool led the Seawolves with 16 points while Scott filled the stat sheet with 15 points, six rebounds, five steals and three blocks. Stony Brook’s leading scorers were quiet, as senior guard Annie Warren and junior guard Gigi Gonzalez combined for only 11 points on 26.3% shooting, but the Seawolves still found a way to win. It was the first time since the season opener that Warren scored less than 15.
“I thought Leighah and [Earlette] made huge offensive plays in the fourth quarter when we needed it,” Langford said. “Annie and Gigi struggled shooting today, but both continued to be solid defensively and Gigi made great decisions during the last two minutes of the game. Again, I am proud that we had a collective effort from everyone and players are stepping up when necessary.”
After averaging 80.3 points through their first three games, the Seawolves have scored 53 in each of their last two games. Stony Brook posted a season-low 33.9% shooting percentage against Iona, while 34.7% against Rutgers marks their second worst mark.
Despite their recent offensive struggles, the Seawolves have picked up the defensive intensity. They allowed 63 and 60 points in their second and third games respectively, but have held their last two opponents under 50 points. Their 51.8 points allowed per game ranks seventh in the nation among teams that have played at least five games.
Langford has won the first five games in her head coaching career and her team is playing up to their high preseason expectations. The Seawolves will look to earn their sixth straight win on the road against the Columbia Lions (4-0) on Wednesday, Nov. 24 at 1 p.m.