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Clutch fourth quarter helps Stony Brook women’s basketball avoid upset

Guards Annie Warren (left) and Kelis Corley (middle) and center Sherese Pittman (right) in a game against UNCW on Friday, Jan. 6. The three players helped lead the Stony Brook women’s basketball team to a road win at Elon on Sunday. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

A dominant fourth quarter by the Stony Brook women’s basketball team helped the Seawolves fend off a ferocious comeback effort and get back into the win column. 

After their disappointing loss to North Carolina A&T on Friday, the Seawolves (11-7, 5-2 CAA) remained in North Carolina to take on the Elon Phoenix on Sunday. In what seemed to be a blowout victory in the making, the Seawolves relied on a strong finish to earn a hard-fought 70-56 victory. 

The Seawolves made it clear from the opening tipoff that they came to play. Guard Annie Warren hit a mid-range jumper on the opening possession to ignite a 20-4 run through the first five minutes. The Phoenix had no answer for the Seawolves in the first quarter, which saw Stony Brook shoot 56.3% from the field. Stony Brook’s suffocating defense aided in the first quarter decimation of Elon, as it held the Phoenix to just six points on 15.8% shooting.

Things tightened up in the second quarter after both Elon began to settle in, helping slow down the pace of play. A layup by guard Daishai Almond with 6:20 left in the first half gave the Seawolves a 21-point lead — their biggest of the day.

Almond ended the second quarter with a bang, sinking a contested three-pointer from the corner as the buzzer beeped to give Stony Brook an 18-point lead heading into halftime.

A Seawolf win that seemed all but inevitable got flipped on its head after Elon outscored Stony Brook 22-8 in the third quarter. The Phoenix kicked things off with an 11-0 run to cut the Seawolves’ lead to just seven points with 6:15 left. The Seawolves committed more turnovers in the quarter (five) than they made field goals (three), allowing the Phoenix to cut their lead down to just two points with 56 seconds left. Elon’s ball movement helped fuel the rally, with seven different scorers contributing in the quarter.

Elon’s momentum did not waver at the start of the fourth quarter, as a three-pointer from guard Kamryn Doty cut Stony Brook’s lead to just one point with 9:01 remaining. However, Stony Brook got back on track after a steal by guard Gigi Gonzalez led to a fast-break layup by guard Shamarla King with 8:25 left. That sequence initiated a 15-5 run by the Seawolves that was capped off with a three-pointer by Warren with 2:30 remaining, putting things out of Elon’s reach.

After disappearing for much of the third quarter, the Seawolves’ offense responded with a dominant fourth quarter, shooting 72.7% from the field. The Stony Brook defense did its part as well, holding the Phoenix to just 12 points on 33.3% percent shooting in the final frame.

Head coach Ashley Langford was happy with how her team responded to adversity and views the win as a learning experience. 

Playing on the road is always a challenge, so I am happy that we were able to bounce back and beat a tough, physical Elon team today,” Langford said in a postgame interview with Stony Brook Athletics. “We are still learning and growing and it’s always better to learn while winning.”

Stony Brook’s star guard duo carried much of the load offensively on Sunday. Warren posted a team-high 19 points, shooting 7-for-13 from the field and 4-of-8 from deep. Gonzalez contributed in all facets of the game, scoring 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting while tallying five assists and four steals. 

Center Sherese Pittman finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, recording her fourth double-double of the season. Pittman was Stony Brook’s anchor defensively, making several highlight-reel plays, including two blocks and a steal. 

The Seawolves will return home to Island Federal Arena this Thursday to host the College of Charleston Cougars. The Cougars are 8-9 on the season and are coming off an 80-74 overtime loss to William & Mary on Sunday. Opening tip-off is scheduled for 6:31 p.m.

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