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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 prepares for 2024’s first Battle of Long Island

The Stony Brook women’s basketball team gathers on the sideline during a timeout against Drexel on Sunday, Jan. 28. The Seawolves will take on their crosstown rivals the Hofstra Pride tomorrow night. STANLEY ZHENG/THE STATESMAN

In the first edition of the Battle of Long Island this season, the Stony Brook women’s basketball team will look to extend its winning streak over its Nassau County rivals to seven games.

On Friday night, the Seawolves (16-2, 6-1 CAA) will travel to Hempstead, N.Y. to take on the Hofstra Pride (7-11, 1-6 CAA) at David S. Mack Sports and Exhibition Complex. Opening tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

For the third matchup in a row, Stony Brook’s elite scoring offense (75.8 points per game) — which is second in the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) — will go up against a top-tier scoring defense. Hofstra is allowing 55.4 points per game — the third-fewest in the conference.

Hofstra’s defense contests shots aggressively, as it has allowed the third-lowest opponent’s field goal percentage (.359) in the conference. The Pride have also guarded the perimeter effectively, surrendering just a .294 three-point shooting percentage. Their defense is anchored by a duo of bigs: center Zyheima Swint and power forward Brooke Anya. Swint is the team’s most prominent defender, as she leads it with 23 blocks and is third with 20 steals. Anya has racked up 22 steals and 13 blocks.

Though Hofstra’s defenders do not block a lot of shots, they do get takeaways quite a bit. Their 8.3 steals per game are the fourth most in the CAA, led by point guard Ally Knights’ 1.4. Shooting guard Tionna Baker is a good defensive wing with active hands off the bench, as she averages 2.4 steals per 40 minutes and is fourth on the team with 16 total steals.

With how tough Swint and Anya have been down low, the Seawolves will have to space the floor out to find success shooting the ball. They are the best team in the CAA from three-point range, as they are shooting 34.8% from deep.

Stony Brook is home to the biggest threat from range in the league: shooting guard Victoria Keenan. Her .425 three-point shooting percentage is the best in the conference. Point guard Gigi Gonzalez has been dangerous from deep, making 38.0% of her three-pointers. Power forward Shamarla King has been instrumental in the effort as well, as she is shooting 35.9% from three.

If the Seawolves can space the floor effectively, that will open up the paint for center Khari Clark. She has been a goldmine of points in the paint for her team, evidenced by her CAA-leading .630 field goal percentage. Her 15.7 points per game rank fourth in the CAA and second on the team.

Clark trails only Gonzalez on Stony Brook’s scoring list, as her 16.5 points per game pace the team and rank second in the conference. Though she has only shot 40.7% from the field, her three-point success and .863 free throw percentage are an important source of her points. Gonzalez is also second in the conference with 5.6 assists per game.

The Seawolves boast a dangerous third star in power forward Sherese Pittman, who is averaging 10.9 points per game on a .447 field goal percentage and .885 free throw percentage. Their fourth-leading scorer — shooting guard Zaida Gonzalez — is currently mired in a slump, averaging just 6.1 points per game since CAA play began. However, she owns one of the cleanest jump shots on the squad and is still shooting 44.9% from the field this year.

The whole offense has moved the ball better than any other team in the conference. As a unit, Stony Brook averages 16.2 assists per game. Other than Gigi Gonzalez, point guard Janay Brantley is very efficient running the offense off the bench and leads the team with a 2.9 assists to turnover ratio. Her 41 dimes are the second most on the roster, trailed by Pittman’s 37.

In addition to their scoring abilities, the Seawolves have an edge over their opponents on the boards. They are averaging the most total rebounds per game (42.8) in the conference, led by a trio of top-10 rebounders.

Clark leads the effort and is fourth in the conference with 7.7 rebounds per game. King has overlapped Pittman and is now second on the team and ninth in the conference with 6.4 boards per contest. Pittman rounds them out with 6.3 rebounds per game.

Other than those three, Brantley’s 6-foot frame makes her a mismatch on the glass for most opposing guards, while Gigi Gonzalez contributes exactly four rebounds per game.

The Pride are not far behind Stony Brook on the boards, as they average 40.1 rebounds per game. Swint has not only been the Pride’s biggest threat on the boards, but also the league’s best rebounder, as she uses her 6-foot-3 frame to pull down 8.9 per game. Anya uses her 6-foot body to dominate the glass and hauls in 7.7 boards per contest.

The offense runs through small forward Emma Von Essen, who leads the team and is 10th in the CAA with 13.9 points per game on a .409/.393/.818 shooting line. Swint has been efficient in the paint, averaging 8.4 points per game on 52.1% shooting. Knights is the offense’s main facilitator with 3.9 assists per game, while point guard Micaela Carter runs the second unit. Apart from power forward Kaylay Joseph-Bernard — who has only attempted 22 shots this season — no other Hofstra player is shooting over 40% from the field.

The Pride’s shooting inefficiencies have left them with the fourth-worst field goal percentage (.371) in the conference, which stems from their poor height. Outside of Swint, Anya and Von Essen (5-foot-9), everyone in Hofstra’s regular rotation is 5-foot-8 or shorter.

The Pride are better suited as a jump-shooting team. Their .343 three-point percentage is the third-best figure in the CAA. Von Essen provides the bulk of that three-point success, as her 57 makes lead the conference and her .393 shooting percentage from deep ranks third. Shooting guard Sorelle Ineza has been a big threat from deep as of late, shooting 48% from three over her last eight games. Small forward Janaia Fargo helps space the floor off the bench, as she is shooting 35.5% from deep.

No matter where it is shooting from, Hofstra will have its hands full against the Seawolves’ defense. Stony Brook has held opponents to 34.7% shooting from the field and 25.5% shooting from three, both of which rank second in the CAA. One of the team’s best defenders is small forward Kelis Corley, who is fundamentally sound both on an off ball. The team is allowing 58.3 points per game, which is the sixth-best figure in the conference. Conversely, the Pride average just 58.5 points per game.

With Clark and Pittman defending the paint, teams have struggled to finish at the rim against the Seawolves. Clark is tied for fourth in the CAA with 1.4 blocks per game and she leads the team with 25 rejections. Pittman has 17. Clark also co-leads the team with 25 steals alongside Gigi Gonzalez after posting a career-high six versus Drexel.

With Stony Brook owning all statistical advantages, just an average performance from it would lead to another blowout victory. With a win, the Seawolves will remain atop of the CAA standings alongside North Carolina A&T as the final month of the regular season commences.

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