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Washington’s 40-piece sinks Stony Brook women’s basketball against Drexel

Forward Shamarla King driving the lane against Drexel on Sunday, Feb. 5. King recorded 11 points and three steals in the Stony Brook women’s basketball team’s loss to Drexel. TIM GIORLANDO/THE STATESMAN

A huge win stood just 31 seconds away from the Stony Brook women’s basketball team, but the nation’s third-leading scorer single-handedly snatched it away.

The Seawolves (13-8, 7-3 CAA) wrapped up their three-game homestand on Sunday, losing a back-and-forth contest against the Drexel Dragons 66-65. Stony Brook was unable to contain Drexel guard Keishana Washington, who erupted for 40 points and spoiled the Seawolves’ day with a game-winning shot in the closing seconds.

With 49 seconds left in the game, Washington connected on a jumper to put the Dragons up by one point. Just 18 seconds later, center Sherese Pittman drew a foul from Drexel guard Maura Hendrixson and knocked down both free throws to give Stony Brook a one-point lead. 

That lead lasted a mere four seconds. Coming off a timeout, Washington took an inbound pass and set herself up from mid-range before knocking down a jumper to take the one-point lead back. 

The Seawolves had three chances to win the game, but failed to convert on all three attempts. Guard Gigi Gonzalez took an inbound pass and tried to return the favor, but strong defense in the paint forced her layup to miss the mark. The ball rolled out of bounds off Drexel, giving Stony Brook another life. With 12 seconds remaining, Pittman missed a fadeaway jumper from the post, but Gonzalez regained possession by forcing a jump ball.

On Stony Brook’s third and final shot, guard Daishai Almond heaved up a jumper, but Washington rejected it to secure the win.

Though the Seawolves missed three potential game-winners in a row, they also allowed Drexel to shoot 76.9% from the field in the fourth quarter. Head coach Ashley Langford highlighted the poor defensive finish as the main reason for the loss.

“We played hard, but like I said, we didn’t get key stops in the fourth quarter when we needed to, and usually we do,” Langford said in a postgame press conference.

Washington ingratiated herself from the start. She put on a scoring clinic all night, scoring 13 points in the first quarter to give Drexel a 19-15 lead. Her fourth quarter was ridiculous as well, as she scored another 16 points in the final frame. On three separate occasions, Washington gave Drexel the lead in the fourth quarter, including her game-winner.

Though the Seawolves trailed at the end of the opening frame, they got the Stony Brook faithful behind them with an exciting second quarter. The team opened the quarter on a 7-0 run, capped with a three-pointer from forward Lauren Filien to tie the game at 22 apiece. Less than a minute later, Almond followed that up with a three-point play to give the Seawolves a 25-24 lead.

This was short-lived as Drexel regained the lead with eight straight points. However, starting at the 3:50 mark of the second quarter, the Stony Brook defense forced three turnovers in a one-minute span to catalyze another big stretch. Guard Kelis Corley started off a 10-0 run by banking home a mid-range jumper through a foul and then finishing the three-point play. With 2:39 left in the first half, forward Shamarla King drained a three-pointer to give Stony Brook a 33-32 lead. Pittman capped off the run with a jumper from the free-throw line to make it 35-32.

With a minute left in the first half, Filien erased a layup attempt by Drexel guard Grace O’Neill to protect Stony Brook’s lead. However, Drexel guard Tori Hyduke responded with a layup with 26 seconds left to cut the lead to just one point. To make a big statement for the Seawolves, Pittman hit a jumper at the buzzer, extending the lead back to three points and putting an exclamation point on the first half. Stony Brook led 37-34 at the break.

Pittman had her fingerprints all over the first half, scoring 15 points to lead Stony Brook. She has pulled up from mid-range much more in recent games, making herself more of a scoring threat. Now more than just a presence in the paint, Pittman intends to continue to stretch the floor to help her team more.

“I think it helps stretch the floor a little bit, but also it helps get my teammates open,” Pittman said. “I think [shooting] is important and I’m going to continue to keep working and help my team out.”

Pittman had a quieter second half, but still finished with 19 points and nine rebounds. Almond added another 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting, and led the Seawolves with four assists. 

“I think [my offense] gets my team going, and it helps me, too, at the same time,” Almond said. “Usually, it’s during the second half where I come out hard, but this time, I came out all four quarters.”

King added 11 points of her own on 4-of-6 shooting. She showed her defensive prowess for Stony Brook, collecting three steals and corralling five rebounds. 

Notably, by making a three-pointer with 3:50 remaining in the game, guard Annie Warren tied former guard Shania “Shorty” Johnson for Stony Brook’s all-time record in three-pointers made. Her next make from deep will set her above the rest. 

Stony Brook will have an opportunity to return to its winning ways on Thursday night in Boston against the Northeastern Huskies. The Huskies are 10-11 overall and 5-5 in conference play. They are coming off a 77-67 loss to Delaware on Sunday. Opening tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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