In yet another ugly game, the Stony Brook women’s basketball bowed its neck and toughed out another big win.
On Friday night, the Seawolves (10-6, 4-1 CAA) returned home to Island Federal Arena to host the Monmouth Hawks. Stony Brook overcame a slow start to bring home a 69-59 victory.
The game started off slowly, as both offenses struggled to shoot the ball. Monmouth led just 10-9 after the first quarter, as both teams combined to shoot only 28.1% from the floor. However, with less than three minutes remaining in the quarter, momentum shifted in Stony Brook’s favor after a layup from guard Daishai Almond. The Seawolves cut their deficit down to one point after back-to-back buckets by guard Gigi Gonzalez.
Stony Brook continued to find its footing in the second quarter. The Seawolves took their first lead of the night just two-and-a-half minutes into the quarter after a jumper from guard Kelis Corley. After Monmouth briefly took the lead back, Corley responded with a three-pointer to put Stony Brook back on top. However, with 5:35 left in the first half, Monmouth forward Lovin Marsicano gave her team the lead back with a catch-and-shoot three-pointer.
That shot from Marsicano woke the Seawolves up, as they responded with a 10-0 run to take an eight-point lead into halftime. Guard Shamarla King sparked the run with a three-pointer and capped it off with a layup during the final minute.
Head coach Ashley Langford attributed the team’s first-half finish to the stout play of the defense, which only allowed a 27.6% field goal percentage before halftime.
“We’re plus-eight going into half just because we’re locking up,” Langford said in a postgame press conference. “But offensively, we got off to a slow start and we missed some shots we usually make.”
While in the locker room, Langford told her players to remain aggressive on offense.
“Just keep letting it fly,” Langford said. “Continue to be confident.”
The Seawolves continued to roll at the start of the third quarter, expanding their lead to double digits. However, Monmouth began to turn it around and played its best basketball in the third quarter. During the quarter, six different Hawks combined to shoot 66.7% from the field as they outscored Stony Brook 27-21 in the frame. Over the final 7:32 of the quarter, Monmouth went on a 21-12 run to cut its deficit down to two points.
The Hawks continued their strong play into the final quarter, as they took a one-point lead just 30 seconds in with a three-pointer from guard Jen Louro. Almond briefly gave Stony Brook the lead back with a layup, but Monmouth guard Antonia Panayides buried another three-pointer to retake the lead.
After falling behind 51-49, guard Annie Warren tied the game up with a mid-range jumper of her own. Just 18 seconds later, Gonzalez gave them the lead with a putback layup after a miss by Almond. However, Monmouth would not go away easily, as guard Ariana Vanderhoop stripped the ball from Gonzalez and tied the game with a layup.
A free throw by Warren and a layup by center Sherese Pittman gave the Seawolves another three-point lead, but Monmouth tied it again at 56 apiece with just 3:22 remaining. That’s when Warren took over the game, as she drilled a corner three off an assist from Gonzalez to give Stony Brook a lead it would not squander.
Following Warren’s three-pointer, the Seawolves’ defense applied heavy pressure on the Hawks to close out the game. They did not surrender another field goal for the final 4:50 and went on a 13-3 finishing run. Gonzalez and Warren both knocked down four free throws each during the final stretch, handing Stony Brook a 10-point win.
“Being able to finish games in the fourth quarter with stops and winning the fourth quarter is really important to us,” Langford said. “I’m glad we were able to do that again today.”
Though Stony Brook’s offense struggled early in the game, the team finished with a decent offensive performance. After shooting just 31.3% overall in the first half, the team shot 46.9% after halftime. The Seawolves were stellar from the free throw line, knocking down 15 of their 17 attempts.
Gonzalez put on a show and led the team with 23 points and eight rebounds. She also recorded two steals on the defensive side and knocked down all seven of her free throw attempts. Warren struggled early but finished the night with 17 points. She did most of her scoring in crunch time, as she put up 10 points in the fourth quarter.
“We’re going to keep fighting no matter what,” Warren said. “Obviously, we had a slow start, but we stuck with it and we pulled it out.”
Almond, Corley and King all had solid individual performances on both sides of the ball as well. Almond scored nine points on 4-of-9 shooting and racked up two steals. Corley scored seven points on 3-of-4 shooting while collecting three rebounds, two blocks and a steal. King scored seven points on 3-of-6 shooting and pulled down seven rebounds, four of which were offensive boards.
With the win, Stony Brook passed Monmouth in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) standings. The Seawolves are now in third place, while Monmouth sits directly behind them in fourth.
Gonzalez said that the Seawolves’ fast start in the CAA is important to their overall goal.
“We’re coming here with a mission, and we’re going to get it done,” Gonzalez said.
In other news, forward Nairimar Vargas-Reyes did not play for the seventh straight game. She has not played since Dec. 7 against Columbia. Langford said she is day-to-day, but did not disclose the injury.
Stony Brook will get six days off to prepare for its next game. The Seawolves will travel down south next week to challenge the North Carolina A&T Aggies next Friday. Opening tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. The Aggies are currently 11-5 on the season and undefeated (5-0) in conference play. They are tied with Drexel atop the CAA standings and have won six games in a row. They will host Delaware this Sunday before their matchup with Stony Brook.
Kenny Spurrell also contributed reporting.