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The Statesman

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Stony Brook women’s basketball prepares for round two with Campbell

The Stony Brook women’s basketball team’s bench celebrates a score against Charleston on Friday, Jan. 19. The Seawolves will take their 10-game winning streak with them to North Carolina to take on Campbell tomorrow. ANGELINA LIVIGNI/THE STATESMAN

With round two just a day away, the Stony Brook women’s basketball team is hoping history repeats itself.

The Seawolves (15-1, 5-0 CAA) will travel to North Carolina to take on the Campbell Camels (8-8, 1-4 CAA) on Sunday at 2 p.m. Both teams already faced each other on Jan. 5 —  and Stony Brook blew Campbell out to open the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) season.

This matchup will see both sides fight strength with strength. The Seawolves boast the best scoring offense in the CAA (76.9 points per game), and they will be facing off against the conference’s top scoring defense (53.3 points per game). In the first meeting, it was Stony Brook’s offense that had the upper hand, totaling 73 points on 46.8% shooting in a 30-point win.

Center Christabel Ezumah is Campbell’s defensive anchor, as her 6-foot-2 frame and length makes her tough to shoot over and her 1.8 blocks per game rank third in the CAA.

Ezumah’s height is emblematic of the Camels’ whole roster, which translates to defensive success. Small forward Brittany Staves is six feet tall, while power forwards Svenia Nürenberg and Gianni Boone both stand at 5-foot-11. Shooting guards Shy Tuelle and Audrey Fuller are both 5-foot-10. Center Sarah Hammack Fitzgerald is their tallest player at 6-foot-3.

Their only smaller player is point guard Gemma Nuñez, who is 5-foot-7. However, she is a pest on defense, as she is tied for seventh in the CAA with 26 steals.

Campbell uses its size to its advantage on the defensive glass, hauling in the fourth-most defensive rebounds per game (27.7) in the conference. It is also fourth in rebounding margin.

Ezumah is hauling in 8.8 rebounds per game, landing her second in the CAA. Nürenberg is second on the team with 4.8 boards per contest, followed by Nuñez’s 4.3.

Stony Brook’s scorers will look to find the upper hand on Campbell once again. Last time, the Seawolves did so by riding on the backs of their dynamic duo: center Khari Clark and point guard Gigi Gonzalez. The two combined for 38 points on 16-of-27 shooting.

Power forward Sherese Pittman chipped in another 11 points while shooting 5-for-11. Shooting guard Victoria Keenan was their only effective floor-spacer, shooting 3-for-5 — all from deep — en route to nine points off the bench. Everyone else who received multiple touches failed to find any consistent rhythm or success.

Gonzalez is currently the CAA’s scoring leader with 16.4 points per game on a .402/.397/.875 shooting line. She runs the show at an elite rate, as she currently places second in the conference with 5.6 assists per game. Clark is fourth in the CAA at 15.9 points per game on a league-leading .626 field goal percentage. Pittman is the team’s third-leading scorer with 11.2 points per game while shooting 44.3% from the field and 88.8% from the free-throw line.

Shooting guard Zaida Gonzalez has slowed down since CAA play began. Her .453 field goal percentage and .333 three-point percentage are both very solid, but she is averaging only seven points per game in conference play, officially dropping her below a double-digit scoring average.

With the efficiency of those four shooters plus others from the bench, Stony Brook leads the CAA with a .450 field goal percentage. Power forward Shamarla King is a Sixth Player of the Year candidate with a .463/.397/.750 triple slash. As for Keenan, she is shooting a team-best 42.2% from deep on 90 attempts, which has also put her into the discussion. Keenan, King and the Gonzalez girls’ success from beyond the arc has the Seawolves ranked second in the conference with a .347 from the three-point percentage.

Even from the charity stripe, Stony Brook sets the CAA’s bar with a .787 free throw percentage. Comparatively, Campbell is the third-worst team in the conference from the foul line at 63.7%.

Not surprisingly, the Seawolves are also the most generous offense in the CAA, averaging 16.10 assists. Other than Gonzalez, point guard Janay Brantley (2.4) and Pittman (2.3) both average multiple assists per game.

However, despite only being the ninth-ranked scoring offense in the CAA with 61.6 points per game, the Camels are not exactly slouches. Their .421 shooting percentage and .333 three-point percentage are both the third-best rates in the conference. Ezumah leads them with 12.4 points on 54.9% shooting, but she cannot shoot, as she has not made a three-pointer and is only making 48.8% of her foul shots.

Ezumah is Campbell’s only double-digit point scorer. Tuelle trails her with 9.3 points per game on a .391/.373/.500 triple slash. From three-point range, Tuelle leads the effort with 112 attempts, while Nürenberg (.438) and Staves (.375) have also proven themselves to be lethal on the perimeter.

Lost in the shuffle of its prolific offense is Stony Brook’s defense. The Seawolves have surrendered 58.3 points per game, which is the sixth-fewest in the CAA. Opponents shoot just 34.8% from the field and 25.3% from deep against them, both of which are the second-best rates in the conference.

Part of the success has been the performance by Clark and Pittman down low, who are a pair of top-10 shot-blockers; the former ranks third with 25. On the perimeter, small forward Kelis Corley, the Gonzalez girls and Keenan are some of the best defensive wings in the CAA.

The other half of their success is their elite rebounding. Stony Brook is the best total rebounding and defensive rebounding team in the CAA. Three Seawolves rank in the conference’s top 10 in rebounds per game: Clark (seventh, 7.4), Pittman (ninth, 6.5) and King (10th, 6.3).

Stony Brook, who has won its last 10 games, owns most of the statistical advantages coming in. However, on the road against the CAA’s best defense, nothing is guaranteed.

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