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Stony Brook women’s basketball finishes nonconference schedule with blowout win

Power forward Shamarla King (15) finishes a layup while point guards Gigi Gonzalez (left) and Janay Brantley (center) look on against Longwood on Dec. 11. King tallied her first double-double of the year on Saturday. ANGELINA LIVIGNI/THE STATESMAN

In its final nonconference game of the season, the Stony Brook women’s basketball team wrapped its first half of the season up with a wire-to-wire blowout.

Despite an eight-day rest, the Seawolves (10-1) showed no rust against the Cornell Big Red (6-6) in Ithaca, N.Y. on Saturday afternoon. Stony Brook had five players finish with double-digit points in an 81-56 win.

After making the first two shots of the game, the Seawolves stayed two to three steps ahead of Cornell for the rest of the first quarter, taking a 17-10 lead into the next frame. The Big Red upped their tempo and scored the first two baskets of the second quarter; the second being a layup off a Euro-step finish from point guard Azareya Kilgoe after going coast to coast. Kilgoe’s bucket made it a one-possession game with 8:35 left until halftime, but the game never got any closer after that.

To kill any hope of a budding rally, power forward Sherese Pittman lowered her shoulder and bullied her way into the low post before tossing in a layup. Pittman’s fierce back down sparked a 14-5 run to give the Seawolves a 31-19 lead with just 2:28 remaining in the first half. Cornell hung with Stony Brook over the next couple of possessions, but its first-half cushion grew to 13 after center Khari Clark pulled off an and-one with just 32 seconds to play in the period. However, a buzzer-beating, mid-range jump shot by Kilgoe cut its lead down to 36-25 by the break.

Once again, Kilgoe’s energy plays failed to spark a big run for the Big Red. With under six minutes to go in the third quarter, point guard Gigi Gonzalez knocked down a second-chance three-pointer following an offensive rebound from Pittman to spark a 17-2 run. Gonzalez spearheaded the run, scoring eight of the team’s points on a pair of threes and a tough layup through contact. The big run allowed the Seawolves to carry a 65-42 lead into the final frame.

The fourth quarter was emblematic of the entire game, as Stony Brook had an answer for everything Cornell mustered up. A mid-range jumper from shooting guard Zaida Gonzalez with just over four and a half minutes remaining finished a 9-1 run, spotting the Seawolves a 29-point lead — their largest of the day. Pittman maintained that cushion for a brief moment by sinking a jumper from between the low post and the elbow, but the Big Red saved some face by hitting a pair of negligible shots afterward.

Except for three-point shooting, Stony Brook owned every single statistical advantage in its latest domination. Head coach Ashley Langford was elated with the well-rounded execution of her team in the victory.

“I’m very pleased with our performance today,” Langford said in a postgame interview with Stony Brook Athletics. “We dominated the glass which was a big focus for us coming into the game. I also thought we shared the ball well and had balanced scoring. I’m glad we were able to close out the nonconference schedule with a win.”

The Seawolves finished the game with a .484/.250/.833 shooting line compared to Cornell’s .418/.375/.538 triple slash. They were far more physical, as they outrebounded the Big Red 41-27 and won the battle in the paint 36-18. Stony Brook also scored 18 points on second chances while surrendering only four. The defense also forced 19 turnovers, leading to an extra 15 points, while the offense coughed the ball up just 13 times.

Clark showcased her presence in the paint, leading the team with 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting while pulling down five rebounds, swiping two steals and blocking one shot. She also went 3-for-4 from the free-throw line.

The Gonzalez girls each efficiently scored 15 points. Gigi Gonzalez went 6-for-11 from the field and a perfect 3-for-3 from deep while collecting a team-best nine assists, five boards and two steals. Zaida Gonzalez shot 7-for-13 from the field and picked up a steal along the way.

Pittman and power forward Shamarla King both put up 11 points apiece. Pittman shot 4-for-8 and 3-for-4 from the charity stripe and also totaled nine rebounds, three assists, two blocks and a steal. King picked up her first double-double of the year and the third of her career, as she hauled in a team-leading 10 rebounds, including seven on the offensive glass. She only shot 2-for-8 from the field but knocked down seven of her eight free throws to reach double figures.

Kilgoe stood out for Cornell, scoring 22 points while shooting 9-for-13 shooting and hitting both of her threes. She co-led her team with three assists. Center Emily Pape had a good game for the Big Red as well, as she finished with 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting and eight rebounds.

The Seawolves will now have five days to prepare for their conference opener against the Campbell Camels at Island Federal Arena on Friday. Opening tip-off is scheduled for 6:31 p.m. The Camels are 7-4 this season and have not played since Thursday, Dec. 21 when they lost 48-47 to High Point. This game will be Campbell’s first-ever conference game in the Coastal Athletic Association.

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