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Stony Brook women’s basketball wins first round of the Battle of Long Island

Power forward Sherese Pittman handles the ball against Drexel on Sunday, Jan. 28. Pittman racked up 16 points, eight rebounds and two blocks in a win over Hofstra on Friday. STANLEY ZHENG/THE STATESMAN

After a sloppy first quarter, the Stony Brook women’s basketball team took control the rest of the way to win the Battle of Long Island.

The Seawolves (17-2, 7-1 CAA) dominated the Hofstra Pride (7-12, 1-7 CAA) behind enemy lines 67-49 on Friday. After a rough start, Stony Brook figured itself out and turned a 10-point deficit into an 18-point triumph.

Hofstra controlled the first quarter, getting four points from both power forward Brooke Anya and center Zyheima Swint to jump out a 15-5 lead. Within the final 90 seconds of the frame, Stony Brook shaved its deficit down to just six points with a layup by center Delaney Yarborough and a jump shot from the right elbow by shooting guard Zaida Gonzalez.

The Pride held onto their lead for most of the second quarter, growing it back to eight with a mid-range jumper by small forward Emma Von Essen with 6:11 left. Stony Brook halted Hofstra’s momentum and went on a 7-0 run with layups by center Khari Clark and point guard Gigi Gonzalez sandwiching a three-pointer by shooting guard Victoria Keenan.

The Seawolves’ scoring streak made it a one-point game, but the Pride went downhill and earned a pair of buckets to grow their lead back to five. During the final two minutes of the first half, a mid-range jumper by Gigi Gonzalez and back-to-back layups by power forward Sherese Pittman handed Stony Brook a 26-25 lead going into halftime.

Stony Brook continued its momentum to start the second half, going on a 12-0 run to open the third quarter. Pittman knocked down a jumper from the free-throw line to spark the spree and later capped it with an and-one layup to go up 38-25 with 5:33 remaining in the third quarter.

The Pride did not take Stony Brook’s explosive streak lying down. Headlined by a layup and a catch-and-shoot three-pointer from shooting guard Selma Markisic, Hofstra responded with a 10-0 run to make it 38-35 with 3:39 left in the third frame. However, Keenan kept the Seawolves multiple steps ahead with a pair of threes over the rest of the period to take a seven-point cushion into the final frame, where the game was put to bed.

Through the first three and a half minutes of the fourth quarter, Stony Brook put it out of reach. Buckets from each of the Seawolves’ big three put them up by 11 points before back-to-back triples by Gigi Gonzalez and Keenan capped off a 12-4 run. Now trailing by 17, Hofstra stopped the bleeding with layups from three different scorers, but it could not get a stop on defense.

Another seven unanswered points, including one last make from deep by Keenan, pushed Stony Brook’s advantage to 22 and the rest of the game was all window dressing.

Head coach Ashley Langford attributed her team’s in-game turnaround to strong defense and rebounding. 

“We fought through adversity and remained poised,” Langford said in a postgame interview with Stony Brook Athletics. “I’m very happy with our effort on the defensive end and I thought we battled on the glass.”

To Langford’s point, the Seawolves held the Pride to just a .328/.111/.625 shooting line on Friday while forcing 16 turnovers. Nine of the 10 Hofstra players who saw action committed at least one turnover.

Stony Brook also finished with four double-digit scorers. Gigi Gonzalez led the team with 17 points, six assists and two steals. However, she was not very efficient, going 8-for-18 from the field. Pittman was the team’s second-leading scorer with 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting and co-led the team with eight rebounds alongside Keenan and Clark. She also blocked two shots and recorded a steal.

Keenan was on top of her game from downtown, scoring 15 points of 5-of-9 shooting — all of which was from three. She also dished out three assists. Clark finished with 12 points on 6-of-11 shooting and tallied a block and a steal.

Point guard Janay Brantley did not find the scoreboard herself, but she dished out four assists and co-led the team with two steals along with both Gonzalezes.

Shooting guard Sorelle Ineza led Hofstra with 12 points on 6-of-15 shooting from the floor. Swint — the Coastal Athletic Association’s (CAA) leading rebounder — grabbed eight boards and scored eight points while shooting 3-for-7.

The Seawolves’ road trip will stray further from home, as they make their way to New Jersey to take on the Monmouth Hawks on Sunday. The Hawks are 13-6 this year and 6-2 in CAA play after a 64-53 win over Towson on Thursday. Opening tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.

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