A brutal first quarter and the inability to knock down close shots in the fourth were all it took for the Stony Brook women’s basketball team to see its 11-game winning streak snapped by Maine on Saturday, Feb. 12.
Down by 23 points, the Seawolves rallied back and got within one, but they could not fully capitalize on every Black Bears error and lost 61-55, their first defeat at home this season and their first since Feb. 14, 2021 — also against Maine.
“Maine was the better team today,” head coach Ashley Langford said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “They deserve this win. I don’t feel like we were focused for 40 minutes. We had a good fight in the second half and we fought back, which I’m proud of, but you can’t open up a game allowing the [other] team to score 24 points and think that you’re gonna walk out of there victorious.”
Maine led 24-8 after the first quarter and 35-12 by the middle of the second. The Black Bears drained three 3-pointers within the first four minutes of play, seeing contributions from forward Maeve Caroll and guards Anne Simon and Alba Orois. Simon finished the game with 21 points, shooting 4-for-7 from beyond the arc.
“They were dictating everything,” Langford said. “I don’t think our defense was dictating. I think we were unfocused defensively. I think we made a lot of mistakes on the defensive end. We just weren’t mentally locked in, and they took advantage of it. That’s a team where if we make little mistakes, they’re going to merge with it. They’re going to knock down the threes. If we miss a switch and we miscommunicate, they’re going to make us pay for it.”
In the second quarter, Langford implemented a backcourt defensive plan to apply more pressure to a raging hot Maine offense. Applying man-to-man coverage slowed Maine down, allowing the Seawolves to gain more possessions and fortify the paint. By the half, Stony Brook trailed by 17.
The Seawolves finally gained momentum in the third quarter. Forward India Pagan, who was kept quiet in the first half, sank her first layup of the day in the opening minute. Guard Gigi Gonzalez also picked up the pace after a fast break layup off a steal. She was one of three Seawolves to hit double-digit points in the game, also adding two assists and three rebounds.
Stony Brook crawled within 11 when guard Earlette Scott blocked an inbound pass and subsequently knocked down the layup against two defenders. The Seawolves forced 12 second-half Maine turnovers, but only turned those into seven points. Guard Annie Warren, usually a reliable free-throw shooter, only shot 3-for-8 from the line. Still, Warren and Scott combined for 25 points by the final buzzer.
The play of the game for Stony Brook came when forward Nairimar Vargas-Reyes saved a deflected pass from going out of bounds. She flicked the ball inbounds and fell out of play. Scott picked up the ball at the top of the key, dribbled across court, and sank the layup.
“We were having to crawl back and exert so much energy that we kind of ran out of steam, but I am proud of them for fighting back,” Langford said.
With just three minutes left in the fourth, Scott sank a jumper to put Stony Brook within one point of Maine.
But the Black Bears drew just enough fouls and found just the right amount of open shots to separate themselves from Stony Brook once again. Maine secured a six-point lead heading into the final 30 seconds. Stony Brook was unable to keep up.
“I think us pressing helped get some energy,” Langford said. “We got some steals, and that helped us keep going. So yeah, I’m proud of our resilience and the fact they keep fighting. I’m happy with that. But overall, no, we didn’t deserve to win today’s game. It’s just that simple. And we’ll learn and grow from it.”
The Seawolves look to bounce back on the road against UMBC on Monday, Feb. 14.