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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Stony Brook women’s basketball grinds out victory over shorthanded UNCW

Power forward Shamarla King shoots a jump shot from the top of the key against the University of North Carolina Wilmington on Sunday, Jan. 7. King hit this shot, sparking a streak of 12 unanswered points. ANGELINA LIVIGNI/THE STATESMAN

Even without starting power forward Sherese Pittman available, the Stony Brook women’s basketball team stayed hot with another win.

Coming off their shortest rest period of the season, the Seawolves (12-1, 2-0 CAA) struggled to a victory over the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) Seahawks (2-11, 0-2 CAA). Against a UNCW team that only used five players for the entirety of the game, Stony Brook won 68-55 at Island Federal Arena to capture its seventh consecutive victory.

Neither side shot the ball nor took care of it with much efficiency early on. The Seawolves shot just 37.5% from the field in the first half and committed eight turnovers, but they were able to take a 35-27 lead into halftime. Like she has been all season, center Khari Clark was their most reliable and dominant player, scoring 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting while hauling in seven rebounds in the first half alone. Her effort, paired with two catch-and-shoot three-pointers by shooting guard Victoria Keenan, allowed Stony Brook to hold at least a two-possession lead for most of the second quarter.

Head coach Ashley Langford did not have an exact diagnosis for the offense’s struggles, but she suspected fatigue from the quick turnaround may have been at play.

“We just didn’t have the energy and edge that we typically do have,” Langford said in a postgame press conference. “I don’t know the exact [reason], but I do know that we were able to still put pieces together enough to win the game. That’s what really matters.”

Despite the Seahawks’ injury problems, their only five active players fought tooth and nail to stay within an arm’s reach of the Seawolves. To start the third quarter, UNCW small forward Evan Miller sparked an 8-2 run with a layup high off the glass and finished it with a turnaround fadeaway from the elbow. The stretch cut Stony Brook’s lead down to just two points within the first three minutes of the third frame.

Langford attributed the competitiveness of the game to the Seahawks’ desperation.

“The equalizer here is they have to play that hard; they have nothing to lose,” Langford said. “They only have five players, they’re just going to let it all hang. I think that mentality can sometimes get you going, right? You play a little above how you normally play. I don’t think we had that mentality.”

About a minute later, point guard Gigi Gonzalez hit a corner three off a bounce pass from Clark to flip the energy back in the Seawolves’ favor. Though UNCW power forward Sammie Ackles got two points back on the ensuing possession, Stony Brook responded with her opposite number.

Power forward Shamarla King took over the game to put it out of the Seahawks’ reach. She responded to Ackles’ jump shot by knocking one down from the top of the key. Back on defense, King drew a charge to turn an and-one by UNCW point guard Taylor Henderson into a turnover. Now with the ball, King pump-faked and side-stepped from the foul line to the elbow before canning another jumper.

On the ensuing possession, King forced an airball from Miller. Back on offense, Keenan drove down the baseline before finding King wide open in the corner, who drained a three to put the Seawolves up by 10 points. After getting another stop, Keenan came back and buried a triple off the left wing.

With just under two and a half minutes remaining in the third quarter, Clark grabbed an offensive rebound and banked it back in to extend Stony Brook’s run to 15-2. Now leading 52-37 and having scored the last 12 points, the Seawolves’ lead had officially become insurmountable.

King — who scored seven points during the game-clinching run — credited the hot streak to the team finding its rhythm.

“I guess just being in the right spots at the right time paid off,” King said. “My teammates moved the ball well and that got us in a groove that we were missing earlier in the game. Once we get going, it’s kind of hard to stop that flow.”

Stony Brook’s defense was too tough for UNCW’s five gassed players to overcome. Henderson engineered a minuscule 7-2 run halfway through the fourth quarter, cutting the Seawolves’ lead down to just seven points with 3:34 remaining. However, a push shot from the low post by small forward Kelis Corley extended their lead back to 10 with just over two minutes left. With 46 seconds to play, Corley made a triple from the corner to put the finishing touches on.

Clark was Stony Brook’s top player again, logging her third double-double of the year with 18 points on 9-of-15 shooting and 13 total rebounds. She also dished out four assists and blocked one shot.

She attributed her performance to keeping her focus on the task at hand.

“Honestly, just having a goldfish mentality,” Clark said. “Knowing that ‘Okay, that just happened, I may have made a mistake, but it’s time to get back on D or it’s time to get back on offense.’ So that really helped, too.”

King scored 13 points on 6-of-12 shooting and grabbed five rebounds, four of which were offensive. Gonzalez struggled with her shot, going just 5-for-16 from the field. However, she still collected 12 points, seven rebounds, nine assists and four steals. Keenan scored nine points on 3-of-6 shooting — all of which was from deep — and pulled in seven rebounds.

Henderson led all scorers with 26 points, but a lot was asked of her, leading to just a 10-of-31 final shooting line. Her whole team shot just 29.7% from the field and 14.3% from downtown.

Langford confirmed that the Seawolves will get Pittman back on Friday when they travel down to Maryland to take on the Towson Tigers at 7 p.m. The Tigers are 8-4 this year and 1-1 in Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) play after losing 62-52 in overtime on Sunday to North Carolina A&T.

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About the Contributor
Mike Anderson, Sports Editor
Mike Anderson is the Sports Editor at The Statesman. He is a senior majoring in journalism with aspirations of becoming a sports journalist. His love of sports comes from his time spent as a baseball player. As a reporter for The Statesman, he has covered baseball, softball, football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, men's and women's lacrosse, women's volleyball and hockey. He has also interned at Axcess Sports as a high school and college baseball and softball reporter. He is a local product from Port Jefferson, N.Y. and is a diehard Mets, Jets, Nets and Islanders fan.
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