Due to a collapse in the closing minutes, the Stony Brook women’s basketball team squandered its chance to ascend in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) standings.
The Seawolves (10-7, 4-2 CAA) began a two-game stint in North Carolina on Friday, taking on the North Carolina A&T Aggies. A back-and-forth affair ended in a 68-60 defeat, as a lackluster second-half offensive performance sank Stony Brook.
With 1:44 left in the game, guard Annie Warren missed a wide-open three-pointer, allowing the Aggies to cling on to a two-point lead. Following the miss, the Seawolves missed every shot they took, shooting 0-for-6 from the field and 0-for-2 from the free-throw line. A travel by center Sherese Pittman with 1:08 remaining all but sealed Stony Brook’s fate. The turnover sent the Seawolves into a tailspin that allowed North Carolina A&T to close things out from the charity stripe.
The Seawolves’ sloppy play to close out the game was the polar opposite of the team’s start. A layup from Pittman with 6:41 remaining in the first quarter capped off a 9-0 run to open play. The Aggies promptly responded with a run of their own, closing the quarter on a 13-8 run heading into the second quarter down four points.
Both teams traded buckets back and forth in the second quarter, with Stony Brook maintaining a slight advantage. The Seawolves ended things on a high note with three consecutive field goals from Warren, Pittman and guard Dai Dai Almond, giving them a five-point advantage heading into the half.
It was a group effort from the Seawolves in the first half. Even though Warren totaled 17 of Stony Brook’s 37 points, the team suffocated the Aggies defensively, forcing them to turn the ball over nine times.
The tides began to turn against Stony Brook during the final five minutes of the third quarter when North Carolina A&T went on a 10-4 run. This run sparked an offensive streak that continued into the fourth quarter, as the Aggies made their first three shots to give them the lead.
The Seawolves regained the advantage with 4:44 remaining following a jumper from Pittman. However, with 03:13 left in the contest, a jumper by center Jazmin Harris gave the Aggies a lead they did not relinquish.
Stony Brook was presented with opportunities to tie or even retake the lead, but three turnovers put a stop to any hope of a come-from-behind win. Foul trouble haunted the Seawolves in the fourth quarter; North Carolina A&T attempted more free throws in the quarter alone (13) than they did in the entirety of the contest (10).
Stony Brook’s heavy reliance on Warren and Pittman hurt the Seawolves’ offense in the end. Warren finished with 25 points on 9-of-21 shooting, just edging Pittman for the team lead, who scored 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Outside of the pairing of Pittman and Warren, the rest of Stony Brook combined for just 15 points on 6-of-27 shooting.
Guard Gigi Gonzalez had two points, tying her lowest total of the season while shooting just 1-of-10 from the field. Despite the struggles, Gonzalez still found a way to contribute, dishing out a career-high 10 assists. Almond had a respectable day, totaling 11 points on 4-of-7 shooting.
Stony Brook was unable to get anything going in the second half offensively, shooting just 9-for-28 from the field after halftime.
Head coach Ashley Langford felt that the Aggies simply had the Seawolves’ number tonight and that the team will now shift its focus to the upcoming matchup this weekend.
“North Carolina A&T was the better team tonight,” Langford said in a postgame interview with Stony Brook Athletics. “We will regroup and focus on closing out the weekend with a win.”
Contrary to Stony Brook, the Aggies shared the load on offense with four players posting double-digit scoring totals. Harris led the way with 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting. Forward Laila Acox had a strong showing as well, recording 12 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Rebounding was a deciding factor in the game. Through the first half, the Seawolves had an 18-11 advantage on the glass. The Aggies responded in a big way in the second half, out-rebounding Stony Brook 23-11 in the final 20 minutes.
After losing on Friday, the Seawolves remain in third place in the CAA. They are currently behind North Carolina A&T at 6-1 and the Drexel Dragons at 5-1. The team’s road struggles also continued, falling to 1-6 in road games.
Stony Brook’s trip in the tar heel state concludes on Sunday when it will visit the Elon Phoenix. Opening tipoff is set for 1 p.m. The Phoenix will welcome the Seawolves with a 0-7 record in conference play. They are at 4-14 overall this season. Elon is coming off a 62-58 defeat at UNC Wilmington.