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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

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Stony Brook women’s basketball goes for 10th in a row versus Charleston

Point guard Gigi Gonzalez fakes out a University of North Carolina Wilmington defender on Sunday, Jan. 7. Gonzalez will play a big role in the Stony Brook women’s basketball team’s next game. ANGELINA LIVIGNI/THE STATESMAN

The Stony Brook women’s basketball team will put its nine-game winning streak on the line against its toughest conference opponent yet.

The Seawolves (14-1, 4-0 CAA) will host the Charleston Cougars (11-4, 3-1 CAA) at Island Federal Arena on Friday night at 6:31 p.m. in a battle for first place. The teams faced off twice last season, with Stony Brook sweeping the series from Charleston.

The matchup will feature a pair of offensive juggernauts, as the Seawolves and the Cougars are the two best scoring offenses in the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA).

Point guard Gigi Gonzalez spearheads Stony Brook’s offense. She leads the CAA with 16.7 points per game on a .415/.419/.879 shooting line. She is also one of the conference’s best facilitators, as she ranks second with 5.5 assists per game.

Gonzalez and center Khari Clark have formed one of the best tandems in program history. She is fourth in the CAA with 15.1 points per game and leads the conference with a .609 field goal percentage. Power forward Sherese Pittman (11.1) and shooting guard Zaida Gonzalez (10) also boast double-digit scoring averages.

The Seawolves’ 44.7% shooting from the field as a team leads the conference. Other than Clark, Zaida Gonzalez (.451), power forward Shamarla King (.443) and shooting guard Victoria Keenan (.442) all own high shooting percentages. The team also holds the second-highest three-point shooting percentage in the CAA (.346) and are shooting a conference-best 78.9% from the free-throw line.

Keenan is one of the best three-point shooters in the conference. She has shot 43.9% from deep on 82 attempts, both of which lead the team. Gigi Gonzalez is shooting a career-high 41.9% from three-point range. King owns a .324 three-point percentage this year, which is improved from last year.

Zaida Gonzalez has gone cold from three, as she is just 3-for-14 from beyond the arc over her last five games. However, she was shooting 36.7% from deep before the slump. Small forward Kelis Corley profiles as a three-and-D wing, but she too has fallen off from three-point territory. Corley has made just three of her last 19 attempts from deep over the last eight games.

Stony Brook’s good shooting numbers can be attributed to its passing. The team leads the CAA in assists per game (16.1). Behind Gigi Gonzalez, point guard Janay Brantley (2.3) and Pittman (2.3) average multiple assists per game.

The Seawolves’ offense will face a middle-of-the-pack defense on Friday. Charleston allows 61.5 points per game, which ranks seventh in the 14-team CAA. The Cougars hold their opponents to a 36.8% shooting mark from the field — the sixth-best number in the conference. Their perimeter defense has been elite, as they have allowed the third-lowest three-point shooting percentage (.251) in the league.

Charleston is also effective in forcing turnovers. It leads the conference in steals per game (10.9) and opponent’s turnovers per game (22.3). Power forward Taryn Barbot (3.1) and point guard Jenna Annecchiarico (2.8) are the CAA’s top two leaders in steals per game.

The Cougars are going to need to unlock its top-tier scoring offense. Barbot is the third-leading scorer in the conference with 15.9 points per game on a .386/.376/.717 triple slash. Annecchiarico is ninth in the CAA with 14.4 points per game. Shooting guard Alexis Andrews is averaging 12.7 points per game on a 38.6% shooting percentage and a team-best 38.2% clip from three-point range. Small forward Jada Logan has contributed 11.5 points per game on 40% shooting.

Andrews, Barbot and Annecchiarico are their only effective three-point shooters. Annecchiarico is shooting 33.3% from deep this year, which trails the other two. Logan and small forward Anika McGarity have attempted a lot of threes, but neither of them are shooting above 29% from there.

Other than hosting the two highest-scoring offenses, Friday’s game will showcase the two best rebounding teams in the league. Once again, Stony Brook (43.1) owns a slight advantage over Charleston (42.5) in rebounds per game.

Barbot is her team’s leading rebounder with exactly six boards per game. Logan trails her with 5.5 rebounds per contest. Center Lara Rohkohl is a 6-foot-3 big who is averaging 4.9 boards, and 6-foot-2 center Zoe McCrary contributes another 4.4. Annecchiarico and Andrews both throw in over four rebounds per game apiece.

Center Adaora Onwumelu is another 6-foot-2 body who averages over four boards, but she has been plagued with injury this year and has missed six total games, including the last three.

The Seawolves have three of the CAA’s 10 best rebounders. Clark is seventh in the conference with 7.5 rebounds per game, followed by Pittman’s 6.4 (ninth) and King’s 6.4 (10th).

Charleston is the better offensive rebounding team with a CAA-leading 15.2 offensive boards per game. However, Stony Brook does a great job preventing second chances with a league-best 31.4 defensive rebounds per contest.

The Seawolves’ defense holds opponents to 57.5 points per game — good for sixth in the conference. Their 34.6% opponent’s field goal percentage and 23.6% opponent’s three-point shooting percentage rank third and second in the CAA, respectively.

Clark and Pittman protect the rim at a high level. Clark’s 22 blocks are the fourth most in the CAA, while Pittman’s 16 are tied for seventh. Gigi Gonzalez is 11th in the conference with 23 steals, trailed by Clark’s 18.

If Stony Brook wins, it will have accomplished its first winning streak of 10 or more games since the 2021-22 season when it won 11 in a row.

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