A 26-point deficit was not enough to bury the Stony Brook women’s basketball team, as a strong comeback led it to its second-straight win.
The Seawolves (2-1) hosted the Iona Gaels on Monday at Island Federal Arena. An in-game turnaround on defense mixed with some clutch shots led the team to a big 73-71 comeback victory.
Following a missed three-pointer from the Gaels, guard Gigi Gonzalez brought the ball up the court with 19 seconds left in a tied game. She danced through traffic and attempted a contested layup. The shot missed, but forward Sherese Pittman grabbed the offensive rebound to give her team another chance. Surrounded by three defenders with six seconds remaining, Pittman put up a shot that rolled in to put the Seawolves in front.
Pittman’s heroics did not stop there. After a timeout, Iona inbounded the ball to forward Ketsia Athias, who had made a shot over Pittman a few minutes earlier. This time though, the first-year Seawolf won the battle and the game, forcing a heavily contested shot that missed at the buzzer.
“I was being more aggressive,” Pittman said in a postgame press conference. “We just needed one stop to win the game, and we got it.”
A joyous ending for Stony Brook did not seem to be brewing following a disastrous first quarter. The Seawolves trailed 26-8 after the first 10 minutes, shooting just 20% from the field compared to the Gaels’ 66.7%. Iona guard Juana Camilion outscored Stony Brook herself in the first quarter, putting up 10 points and three assists.
“We were a little flat; there was no energy,” head coach Ashley Langford said. “It took us some time to settle in against an Iona team with a good offense.”
The Seawolves showed life in the second quarter, outscoring their opponents 18-17. The team upped the tempo even more coming out of halftime behind guard Annie Warren’s resurgent play.
Stony Brook’s top scorer rejuvenated the offense, tallying 15 points in the third quarter to cut the deficit to six. With 40 seconds left in the frame, Warren made a three-pointer that gave her 1,000 career points. She is now the 19th player in program history to reach the 1,000-point mark.
“It’s a good feeling,” Warren said. “It fueled us to win the game. We didn’t want to go out like that.”
Her historic performance was her second consecutive 20-point outing; the first such streak of her career. The fifth-year guard finished with 28 points on 10-for-20 shooting from the field. She made three of her six three-pointers while knocking down all five of her free throws.
Gonzalez mirrored her with a strong second half of her own. She recorded 13 points in the half and two fourth-quarter steals that proved to be massive in the comeback. Gonzalez ended with 24 points on 8-for-20 shooting.
“I was being more aggressive defensively and offensively,” Gonzalez said. “I was trying to get my teammates going as well by pushing the tempo and finding them at the basket.”
The Gaels had the lead for over 38 minutes compared to Stony Brook’s 31 seconds. After being down by 26 just 3:46 into the second quarter, the Seawolves went on a 61-33 run over the rest of the game.
“We got energy plays,” Langford said. “We forced 17 turnovers to get rolling. It became contagious.”
Rebounding was a positive for Stony Brook against Iona. The Seawolves out-rebounded their opponent 38-31. The team’s offensive rebounding ability played a pivotal role in the win, helping create extra scoring opportunities. They outscored Iona on second chance opportunities 16-2.
Forward Nairimar Vargas-Reyes recorded the second double-double of her Stony Brook career, posting 10 points and 11 total rebounds.
After leaving last Thursday’s game with an injury, guard Daishai Almond returned to the starting lineup for Stony Brook. However, she appeared to injure her right leg and left the game without returning to the floor. Almond watched the entire second half from the sideline on crutches. Langford called her injury day-to-day.
Stony Brook will attempt to extend its winning streak to three games on Saturday at the St. John’s Red Storm. Opening tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. in Queens, N.Y. The Red Storm are 3-0 this year after beating Temple 66-54 at home.