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Streaking Stony Brook women’s basketball aims for ninth-straight win at Delaware

The Stony Brook women’s basketball team’s bench celebrates a three-pointer against the University of North Carolina Wilmington on Sunday, Jan. 7. The Seawolves will take on Delaware on the road on Sunday. ANGELINA LIVIGNI/THE STATESMAN

With point guard Gigi Gonzalez just a field goal away from becoming the 20th 1,000-point scorer in program history, the Stony Brook women’s basketball team is hoping for two celebrations.

Still on the road, the Seawolves (13-1, 3-0 CAA) will face the Delaware Blue Hens (6-8, 2-0 CAA) at Bob Carpenter Arena on Sunday afternoon. Opening tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m. When the two teams met last year, Delaware started Stony Brook’s late-season collapse with an upset win on Feb. 26, 2023.

However, that was a much different time. The Seawolves were a thin team, especially in the bigs department. Losing starting power forward Sherese Pittman — who was then playing center — towards the end of that game not only killed their chances to win that day, but also further exposed their lack of depth. That inspired head coach Ashley Langford to recruit center Khari Clark in the transfer portal, who has since turned Stony Brook into a powerhouse in the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA).

The Seawolves’ dominance runs through Clark. They own the second-best scoring offense (76.4 points per game) in the CAA, sitting just eight total points behind Charleston for the lead. They lead the league in field goal percentage (.452) and free throw percentage (.774), while also boasting the fourth-best three-point shooting percentage (.339). Clark is right at the forefront of all of that, as her .639 field goal percentage is the best in the conference by an insurmountable margin.

She has great help around her, too. Gonzalez is coming off one of the greatest individual performances in Stony Brook history and is now the CAA’s leading scorer (16.4 points per game). Clark is third on the list at 15.6 points per contest. Gonzalez’s .412/.421/.867 shooting line is one of the most well-rounded ones in the conference and her 5.5 assists per game place her second on the league’s leaderboard.

Besides the Seawolves’ star tandem at the one and the five, they have two other studs standing beside them. Pittman is also heating up, averaging 12 points per game on 54.8% shooting over her last six appearances. On the season, she is averaging 11.1 points per contest on 43.8% shooting while knocking down 87.2% of her free throws. Shooting guard Zaida Gonzalez deepens the starting lineup with more efficiency, as she averages 10.5 points on 46.3% shooting from the field.

The weapons extend to the bench, where shooting guard Victoria Keenan thrives from. The sharpshooter leads the team in every statistic from beyond the arc, including a .429 three-point percentage. Point guard Janay Brantley’s 31 assists are tied with Pittman’s total for the second most on the team. Power forward Shamarla King is a good shooter as well, but her field goal percentage has dipped to .434 this season after going just 9-for-28 over her last four games.

The multitude of weapons will be a lot for the Blue Hens’ defense to handle. They are currently the third-worst scoring defense in the CAA, allowing 69.2 points per game. Their biggest weakness is on the perimeter, as opponents shoot 35.1% from three-point range against Delaware — the highest rate in the league.

Even the Blue Hens’ splash play count is low. They have recorded the fifth-fewest steals (7.1) and second-fewest blocks (2.1) per game in the CAA. Center Klarke Sconiers is their only legitimate rim protector, as she leads the team and is fifth in the conference with 1.3 blocks per game. Point guard Sydney Boone is tied for eighth in the league with 1.6 steals per game, while shooting guard Tara Cousins and power forward Chloe Wilson both average 1.1.

Delaware keeps itself in games with its electric offense. The Blue Hens are third in the CAA with 69.6 points scored per game. Their .418 field goal percentage is the fourth-best number in the conference and their .335 three-point rate ranks fifth.

Just like Stony Brook, Delaware has four scorers averaging over double figures. Cousins’ 14.7 points per game ranks ninth in the conference, and she does it with an efficient .445/.359/.750 triple slash. Boone is the Blue Hens’ second-leading scorer with 11.9 points per game. She is shooting 33.3% from deep this year and 78.6% from the free-throw line.

Wilson and Sconiers round out the top-scorers list, averaging 11.4 and 10.8 points per game, respectively. Wilson stretches the floor well, shooting 36.4% on 22 three-point attempts. She is also an expert at getting to the foul line, as her 85 free-throw attempts lead the CAA, and her .776 free throw percentage is a major source of her points. Sconiers is an effective inside scorer who is shooting 52.7% from the field and 76.7% from the free-throw line.

Delaware’s bench players contribute to the scoring. Small forward Rebecca Demeke is shooting 37.5% on 48 three-point attempts this year while power forward Darrionna Howard is shooting 50% from the field. Point guard Nakiyah Mays-Prince leads the second unit and is fourth on the team with 23 assists.

In other news, freshman small forward Grace Sundback has recently been inserted into the starting lineup after sitting out for the first 12 games. She has started both of her games and averaged 24.5 minutes per contest, but has struggled to just a .133/.100/.600 triple slash thus far. She will look to get involved with the scoring in her third career game on Sunday.

The Seawolves’ strong defense is equally equipped to slow down the Blue Hens’ offense. Stony Brook is allowing just 56.8 points per game — the fifth-fewest in the CAA. It is holding opponents to the third-lowest field goal percentage (.344) and second-lowest three-point percentage (.242) in the conference. Thanks to Clark and Pittman, the team’s rim protection is elite, as it averages the second-most rejections per game (3.9). Clark is fourth in the league with 1.3 blocks per contest while Pittman is tied for seventh with 1.2.

Perimeter players for the Seawolves get involved on the glass, as well. Gigi Gonzalez averages 4.1 rebounds per game, while small forward Kelis Corley hauls in exactly four.

On the boards, the Seawolves own the advantage. They have three of the CAA’s top 11 rebounders in Clark (sixth), Pittman (ninth) and King (11th). Clark pulls down 7.3 rebounds per game, while Pittman sits at 6.5 and King trails with 6.1. As a team, they are second in total rebounds per game (42.9) and first in defensive rebounds per game (31.3).

Delaware is a mediocre rebounding team by the CAA’s standards, but it has outrebounded its opponents by an average of 3.5 per game. Wilson leads her team with exactly six rebounds per game, followed by Howard’s 5.5 and Sconiers’ 5.2. Both Cousins and center Ande’a Cherisier average over four rebounds per game.

Though the numbers favor Stony Brook coming into this game, they also did last year. If the Seawolves can pull this win off, they will have successfully avenged last year’s season-crippling disaster while also getting Gigi Gonzalez into the 1,000-point club.

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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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