The Stony Brook women’s basketball team put on a clinic in a 77-39 blowout victory against the Hartford Hawks on Sunday, Jan. 2.
The Seawolves (10-2, 1-1 AE) faced Hartford (0-12, 0-1 AE) after suffering a stunning upset loss to NJIT in the team’s first America East matchup due mainly to the unavailability of a starter and several rotation players because of COVID-19 issues.
Despite a continued lack of star power in Stony Brook’s conference home opener against Hartford on Sunday, the Seawolves dominated.
“I’m really proud that they bounced back,” said head coach Ashley Langford in an interview with The Statesman. “We’re getting back to what we do, and doing what we do is really important. I told them today, ‘We have to respect Hartford, but a lot of this is about us.’ We just have to feel more confident in what we’re doing. We have to win the glass, and we won the glass emphatically today. So, I’m happy about that.”
Unlike the sluggish start that thwarted a late-game comeback attempt against NJIT, the Seawolves’ home conference opener began with a splash in the first quarter as they jumped out to a 17-9 lead over the Hawks. Right from the get-go, the themes of the game were constant pressure and fast pace, both on the offensive and defensive ends.
“Just pushing the tempo like Coach says,” junior guard Gigi Gonzalez said when asked about the key to the team’s success. “We want to get out, have fun, and push as much as we can to get easy buckets and get back on the defensive end to get more.”
Gonzalez racked up 13 points and eight assists through 29 minutes of play. Graduate forward India Pagan, who also spent 29 minutes on the court, found plenty of success against the Hawks, shooting 7-for-19 from within the arc, collecting eight rebounds, and scoring a team-leading 18 points. Graduate forward Leighah-Amori Wool, who has also become a pillar of the Seawolves’ starting five, finished one point short for the team lead with 17. Nonetheless, Wool had an afternoon to remember, as her efforts achieved a personal accomplishment.
About midway through the second quarter, Wool received a pass from Gonzalez, which led her to drive the ball up the middle to sink a beautiful layup while also drawing a foul from the Hawks. Between the play and her free throw, Wool was greeted with applause from both the audience and her own teammates. Although surprised at first, Wool quickly realized what she had done — scored the 1,000th point of her career.
“At first, I thought that they put the play of the game up [on the scoreboard] because I think it was just after [Gonzalez] passed me the ball and I made the layup,” Wool said. “So I was like, ‘What is everyone looking at me for?’ Then I looked up, and I saw it. I didn’t think I would score 1,000 points today. I knew I was close, but I didn’t know how close I was. But yeah, I was actually surprised.”
Wool became the 19th player in Stony Brook women’s basketball history to achieve the 1,000 point milestone with the team. She is preceded by Pagan, who reached the milestone last season. On top of this accolade, Wool shot 58% from within the arc and grabbed four rebounds along the way.
“Honestly, I couldn’t have done it without the process that I’ve been through,” Wool said. “I’m just very grateful to have been a part of three great programs and I am very grateful for the people who’ve been in my life and believed in me to get to the point that I am right now.”
Along with stellar performances from these familiar faces, Stony Brook saw large contributions from the bench. Sophomore forward Kelis Corely and junior guard Veronica Charles combined for 19 rebounds and 12 points. Senior guard Annie Warren saw the most playing time on the team and came short of a triple-double: seven points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
Stony Brook outclassed Hartford throughout the game, culminating with a 38-point lead at the final buzzer in a performance that could only be described as dominant. Despite their roster’s many shortcomings, the Seawolves continue to excel.
“It’s important that we share the ball and have the team chemistry that we always have so we can get those assists tacked up,” Gonzalez said. “We have to keep focusing on our principles and our core values and make sure that we follow through with those no matter what.”
On Sunday, Jan. 9, the Seawolves will travel to Orono to face the Maine Black Bears in an attempt to earn a winning record in the America East conference. Because of COVID-19 difficulties in the UMBC program, an away game versus the Retrievers on Wednesday, Jan. 5 has been postponed.