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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Stony Brook women’s basketball tips season off on the right foot

Center Khari Clark drives for a layup against Columbia on Monday, Nov. 7. Clark led the Stony Brook women’s basketball team with 18 points and 10 rebounds in its season opener. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

A dominant fourth quarter propelled the Stony Brook women’s basketball team to an opening-night victory.

After relinquishing a double-digit point halftime lead, the Seawolves (1-0) exploded in the final frame to finish off the Columbia Lions (0-1) to earn an 85-73 win on Monday at Island Federal Arena.

With 7:59 remaining in the third quarter, power forward Sherese Pittman sank a free throw to complete a three-point play and give the Seawolves a 17-point lead — their largest of the game.

To that point, Stony Brook limited Columbia’s top scorer from last season — small forward Abbey Hsu — to just 10 points on 4-of-13 shooting from the field. However, with her team needing a spark, Hsu stepped up. She spearheaded a 26-9 run by the Lions to close out the period by scoring 11 points.

Given Hsu’s skillset and scoring prowess, head coach Ashley Langford was pleased with the way the Seawolves defended her.

“That’s a pro,” Langford said in a postgame press conference. “I think she was shooting the same shots, and we were contesting. I mean, we were right there in her face and she still made it, and sometimes that’s what happens. We just kept telling them ‘Keep contesting.’”

Stony Brook turned the ball over and shot 4-for-14 during that stretch, allowing the Lions to take a 61-59 lead. As the third quarter wound down, shooting guard Zaida Gonzalez scooped in a buzzer-beating layup to tie the game heading into the final 10 minutes.

Stony Brook’s shooting struggles continued into the final period as on its first possession, shooting guard Zaida Gonzalez missed a three-pointer. However, power forward Shamarla King grabbed the offensive rebound and converted the putback to give the Seawolves a much-needed bucket.

Despite coming off the bench for the season opener — a role King grew out of last year — her impact on both sides of the ball still showed. She finished with 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting to go with seven rebounds (three offensive) and three steals.

“It’s coming in knowing your place and role,” King said. “Keeping the game simple, doing what you do best.”

After going down 63-61, Columbia responded with a three-pointer by power forward Noa Comesaña — the first of her collegiate career. Point guard Gigi Gonzalez answered with a three-point make of her own, giving Stony Brook a lead it would not look back from.

The Seawolves scored another 10 unanswered points following Gigi Gonzalez’s make, accentuated by four different scorers. In total, Stony Brook had five double-digit scorers in Monday’s win.

After point guard Fliss Henderson and Hsu made back-to-back field goals to cut Stony Brook’s lead to eight points with 3:45 left in the game, a 7-0 run led by center Khari Clark and Gigi Gonzalez put the exclamation point on the victory.

The Seawolves began their 2023-24 campaign on a high note offensively. They posted a .453/.370/.810 shooting split, and their 85 points were the most since Dec. 30, 2022 against William & Mary.

Gigi Gonzalez and Clark co-led Stony Brook with 18 points apiece. In her debut as a Seawolf, Clark secured a double-double, logging 10 rebounds besides her scoring input and contributed three assists as well. She also made her presence felt defensively with three steals and a block.

Clark attributed her standout Seawolves debut to a collective effort.

“It’s just trust,” Clark said. “It speaks very highly of our team and how much chemistry we have. Trust in me that I’ll finish when I can.”

Another transfer who contributed significantly to the win was Zaida Gonzalez, who finished with 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting, which included a pair of made threes.

Pittman struggled with her shooting — scoring 11 points on just 4-of-15 shooting — but she contributed in other ways. She led the team with seven assists and grabbed four rebounds while also blocking a shot.

Stony Brook held Columbia to a .408/.273/.667 shooting line. Hsu led her team with 23 points on 10-for-28 shooting. She struggled from three-point range, shooting 1-for-13. However, she did grab 12 rebounds, three of which were on the offensive glass.

Shooting guards Riley Weiss and Cecelia Collins were the only other Lions players to have double-digits in points with 14 and 11, respectively. Collins led them with five assists.

Stony Brook lost the turnover battle 19-17 but outrebounded Columbia 45-35.

The Seawolves will now hit the road for the first time this season, as they take on the Le Moyne Dolphins on Saturday in Syracuse, N.Y. The Dolphins are 0-1 this year and will face the No. 20 University of Colorado on Wednesday before playing Stony Brook. Opening tip-off for Saturday’s affair is set for 2 p.m.

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About the Contributor
Alex Streinger, Assistant Sports Editor
Alex Streinger is an Assistant Sports Editor of The Statesman. He is a junior majoring in journalism and minoring in political science. He is the beat reporter of the Stony Brook men’s soccer and nationally-ranked women’s lacrosse teams. He interns at Movendi International, the largest independent global social movement for development through alcohol prevention.
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