Guard Daishai Almond driving the basket against Columbia on Wednesday, Dec. 7. The Stony Brook women’s basketball team improved to 4-1 in home games after picking up another win against Maryland Eastern Shore. CAMRON WANG/THE STATESMAN

One final win against a non-conference opponent gave the Stony Brook women’s basketball team a winning record going into conference play.

After getting 10 days off, the Seawolves (6-5) were well-rested coming into their Wednesday matchup with the Maryland Eastern Shore Hawks. Stony Brook showed no signs of rust, as it opened and closed the game on dominant runs to treat its home crowd with a 69-59 victory.

Guard Annie Warren fueled some early-game momentum for the Seawolves, scoring 11 points to lead them on a 17-4 run through the first 5:42. However, what seemed to be a Stony Brook blowout in the making turned into a defensive slugfest. Warren fell into foul trouble early, forcing head coach Ashley Langford to sit her down.

Without the hot hand of Warren for much of the second quarter, the Seawolves’ offense was halted. They knocked down just four of their 17 shots, good for just a 23.5% clip. Offensively, Stony Brook was presented with several good looks throughout the quarter, but were unable to get their shots to fall. This allowed Maryland Eastern Shore to even things up with 14 seconds left in the first half. Things would not remain tied for long, as guard Gigi Gonzalez hit a buzzer-beating jumper from the free-throw line to put the Seawolves back in front 30-28 heading into halftime.

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“Annie got in foul trouble,” Langford said in a postgame press conference. “She was the reason we had 20 points in the first quarter. We just got cold on the offensive end in the second quarter. To me, we just weren’t making the shots we were making in the first quarter.”

Stony Brook came out of the locker room reinvigorated with Warren back in action, as she hit another three-pointer on the Seawolves’ first possession of the second half. Both teams traded baskets back and forth throughout the third quarter, allowing the Hawks to keep things close and trail by only two with 3:18 remaining. The Seawolves responded to the Hawks’ fight with a quick 9-4 run to enter the fourth quarter with a 48-41 lead.

Stony Brook carried that momentum into the fourth quarter, as tough layups from guard Daishai Almond and a pair of three-pointers from Warren spearheaded a 17-8 run. This gave the Seawolves a 16-point lead with 4:57 remaining. Maryland Eastern Shore kept things interesting, going on a 10-0 run to cut its deficit to just six points with two minutes remaining. However, a bucket by Gonzalez and pair of free throws from guard Shamarla King put things out of reach for the Hawks.  

Stony Brook played its best basketball in the fourth quarter, shooting 66.7% from the field and 50% from deep. Langford attributed the team’s fourth-quarter performance to one of Almond’s tough finishes at the rim.

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“[Almond] made a highlight today that got everybody excited,” Langford said. “Then [Warren] starts feeling energy, and now its easier for her to make threes. So it’s just contagious, and when we’re shooting the ball really well, we’re hard to guard.”

Warren led all scorers with 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting. She shot 6-for-10 from deep, accounting for three quarters of her points. Warren struck while the iron was hot, scoring 19 of her points during Stony Brook’s first and fourth-quarter runs. 

Warren credited her teammates for her performance, as Stony Brook’s ball movement helped Warren create several good looks.

“My teammates going downhill made everybody collapse,” Warren said. “So I’m just right there open being confident and knocking them down.”

Forward Sherese Pittman continued her impressive stretch of play by contributing in all facets of the game. She was a force to be reckoned with on both sides of the ball, posting a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. She also recorded four steals and blocked three shots, both of which were career-highs. Pittman attributes her success to playing aggressively while also getting some help from her fellow Seawolves.

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“Being aggressive really helped,” Pittman said. “Just letting the game come to me and can’t do it without my teammates so they’re a big part of that.”

Stony Brook’s shot defense was dominant. The unit only allowed Maryland Eastern Shore to shoot 36.8% overall and 20% from deep. 

The Seawolves will get another eight days of rest before returning to action on Friday, Dec. 30. They will remain at Island Federal Arena to kick off conference play against the William & Mary Tribe. The game will serve as the program’s first-ever Colonial Athletic Association matchup. The Tribe is 5-6 this season after losing 70-52 on Wednesday to Norfolk State.

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Matt Howlin is an assistant sports editor of The Statesman. He is a junior journalism major at Stony Brook University. He previously served as the campus news editor for The Compass Newspaper at Suffolk County Community College. Following graduation, Matt plans to follow his dream of becoming a sports journalist. He hails from Coram, N.Y. and is an avid Yankees, Giants, Islanders and Lakers fan.

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