The Stony Brook women’s basketball team was in control with only nine minutes remaining in its matchup against the Albany Great Danes, but a fourth-quarter breakdown will likely cause the Seawolves to fall short of their end goal for the season.
Stony Brook could have clinched a regular season title on Wednesday, but also collapsed in the fourth quarter against UMass Lowell. A win against Albany would have sealed it, and when the Seawolves went up by 16 points with nine minutes left, it seemed all but inevitable that the regular season championship would belong to them.
The Seawolves were clear favorites before the game and in the fourth quarter. Instead, they lost 57-56 by being held scoreless through the final five minutes and allowing Albany to score the game’s final 13 points.
“I’m not sure if there was anything specifically [Albany] was doing. I just think when we made mistakes, they capitalized,” head coach Ashley Langford said in a postgame press conference.
The first quarter looked to be business as usual for Stony Brook, jumping out to a 11-1 lead to start the game. This was short-lived as the Great Danes responded with a 12-2 run to tie it up at 13 to end the quarter.
The second quarter was a defensive clinic by both teams. Stony Brook held a lead of 26-22 going into the break.
Stony Brook put it all together offensively in the third quarter, shooting 58.3% as a team in the period. After a layup by forward India Pagan put the team up 49-33 with 9:12 left in the contest, it seemed like this would go on to be yet another blowout win for the Seawolves.
But it’s never good to get too comfortable.
Albany showed that it was not going to roll over. After going down by 16, the Great Danes shot 9-for-13 from the field to finish the game. Forward Helene Haegerstrand put up 12 of her game-leading 18 points in the fourth, and guard Ellen Hahne contributed two points, four assists, three rebounds, a steal and a block to give their team a lead that they would not surrender.
Stony Brook did not score in the last 5:09 of the game, letting UAlbany go on a 13-0 run in that time to steal the lead. In the last minute, guard Annie Warren put up a 3-pointer that would have given Stony Brook the lead but missed. Forward Kelis Corley got the offensive rebound and attempted a layup at the buzzer in a last-ditch effort, but couldn’t get it to go.
After starting the season 21-2, the Seawolves lost three of their last six games to finish the year 23-5 and 14-4 in the America East. Just a week ago, Stony Brook was 23-3 and 14-2 in conference, with two matchups that the team was largely favored in looming ahead. This loss drops the Seawolves to second in the America East behind Maine, who won 12 in a row to leap Stony Brook in the standings when that seemed most improbable. Any hope they had of making the NCAA Tournament has all but vanished.
When asked for her favorite memory of the season, Langford recalled gathering her team for a huddle and asking them each to name something they were grateful for.
“That’s what I want our program to be about is love, care, vulnerability,” Langford said.