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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Fresh off a rare loss, Stony Brook women’s basketball takes on Northeastern

The Stony Brook women’s basketball team huddles during a timeout against Towson on Friday, Feb. 3. The Seawolves will play Northeastern in Boston tomorrow at 2 p.m. MACKENZIE YADDAW/THE STATESMAN

After suffering another frustrating overtime loss, the Stony Brook women’s basketball team will hope to avoid its first losing streak of the year.

Up in Boston, the Seawolves (18-3, 8-2 CAA) will face off with the Northeastern Huskies (8-12, 4-6 CAA) on Sunday in hopes of getting some revenge from last year’s postseason. This is the first meeting between the two teams this year. Last year, Northeastern eliminated Stony Brook from the 2023 Colonial — now Coastal — Athletic Association (CAA) women’s basketball tournament on March 11, 2023. Opening tip-off for the rematch is set for 2 p.m.

Much like last year, the Seawolves come into this matchup boasting the second-best scoring offense (75.6 points per game) in the CAA. However, this year, the Seawolves rotation features dominant center Khari Clark, who has helped turn them into a powerhouse in the conference.

Stony Brook leads the conference in all three shooting splits, sporting a .452 field goal percentage, a .340 three-point percentage and a .756 free throw percentage. Clark has been instrumental in achieving that elite level of efficiency, as her .625 field goal percentage far and away paces the CAA. She is the league’s third-leading scorer with 16.5 points per game. 

Clark’s partner in crime is point guard Gigi Gonzalez, who is one of the top facilitators in the conference. She ranks second in the CAA with 5.5 assists per game. Gonzalez is also the Seawolves’ top scorer with 16.7 points per game, the second most in the league. She has done so on a .415/.356/.857 shooting line.

Behind the star duo is power forward Sherese Pittman, who is averaging 11.9 points per game while shooting 47.5% from the field and 82.1% from the free-throw line. After Pittman, shooting guards Zaida Gonzalez and Victoria Keenan are the next options for Stony Brook, both of whom are averaging 8.5 points per contest.

Keenan has been the biggest threat from behind the arc in the CAA. The sharpshooter leads the conference with a .421 three-point percentage on 126 attempts. Behind her, Gigi Gonzalez is having a career year from three-point territory. Power forward Shamarla King has also been reliable, knocking down 34.9% of her tries from deep.

As for Zaida Gonzalez, she may have finally broken her slump after scoring seven points on 2-of-4 shooting on Friday night. She made her only three-pointer and both of her free throws, showing potential encouraging signs for the team moving forward. Gonzalez currently owns a .424/.333/.706 triple slash.

The Seawolves’ generosity has been a vast part of their success. They lead the CAA with 16.2 team assists per game. Other than Gigi Gonzalez, point guard Janay Brantley plays a key role, as her 2.2 assists per game rank second on the team while her 2.7 assist to turnover ratio leads it. Pittman has also made plays for the group, dishing out exactly two dimes per contest.

The Seawolves’ well-oiled offense will certainly pose a challenge for the Huskies’ leaky defense, which has allowed the fifth-most points per game (64.4) in the CAA. Opponents have shot 40.9% from the field against them — the fifth-worst rate in the conference.

Northeastern does not make many plays on the ball. The Huskies currently have the third-fewest steals (6.5) and second-fewest blocks (2.5) per game in the CAA. They have forced only 15.3 turnovers per game — the third-worst number in the conference.

Point guard Derin Erdogan leads Northeastern with 33 steals and 1.7 per game, followed by shooting guard Yirsy Quéliz, who has 25 and 1.3, respectively. The team’s top rim protectors are power forwards Jaelyn Batts and Oralye Kiefer, who co-lead the team with 15 blocks apiece. Batts has missed five games with injury, giving her an average of exactly one block per game to tie her with Pittman for the ninth-best rate in the CAA.

Shooting guard Gemima Motema — one of the Huskies’ better defenders — is out for the season due to injury. She averaged a steal per game in 13 appearances and was a member of the 2023-24 Preseason All-CAA Second Team.

Northeastern will have to rely on its offense to stay in the game. The Huskies are averaging just 59 points per game, ranking ninth in the CAA. However, they have done so on efficient shooting. Their .418 field goal percentage is the third-best figure in the conference despite putting up the fewest field goals per game (52.9). They have also been lethal from three-point territory, trailing only the Seawolves on the league’s leaderboard with a .337 three-point percentage.

Northeastern has been anemic from the free-throw line, as its .613 free throw percentage is tied for the third worst in the nation.

Erdogan leads the charge for the Huskies, averaging 15.4 points per game — the fourth most in the conference — on a .424/.352/.780 shooting line. Her 4.3 assists per contest rank third in the CAA. Center Deja Bristol is their only other double-digit scorer, averaging 11.1 points per game on 53.3% shooting.

Not having power forward Asha Parker’s inside-scoring ability will hurt them, as she is also out for the season with an injury. Her .500 field goal percentage trails only Bristol on the team’s hierarchy.

Northeastern’s main threats from downtown are Erdogan and shooting guard Maddie Vizza. Erdogan is shooting 35.2% on 125 three-point attempts. Vizza’s only job is to shoot threes, as she has started all 20 of the Huskies’ games and has attempted only seven two-point field goals. On 126 tries from deep, Vizza is shooting 34.1%.

Though Kiefer is 6-foot-3, she prefers to stretch the floor rather than hang around in the post. She has shot 35.3% from range on 34 attempts this year. Quéliz is also hot from deep, shooting 43.8% over her last five games.

Without Motema available at the two, shooting guard Marian Turnbull may see some action. She has shot 4-for-12 from three this year while getting just 6.8 minutes per game across 16 appearances.

Northeastern moves the ball, as it averages the sixth-most assists per game (12.9) in the CAA. After Erdogan, Batts drops 3.9 dimes per contest, which is the fifth-best mark in the conference.

Stony Brook’s defense will present a challenge for the Huskies. The Seawolves are allowing just 59.2 points per game — the sixth-best mark in the CAA — and holding opponents to the second-lowest field goal percentage (.351) and third-lowest three-point percentage (.258) in the league.

It is difficult to finish at Stony Brook’s rim with Clark and Pittman roaming around it. The team’s 3.7 blocks per game are the third-most in the CAA, led by Clark’s 1.4, which rank fourth amongst the league’s rim protectors. Pittman averages one per game. Brantley’s 6-foot frame helps her deny opposing shooters as well, as she has 11 rejections this year.

Clark also gets takeaways, as her 30 steals co-lead the team along with Gigi Gonzalez. Eight different Seawolves have logged at least 12 steals, but Clark and Gonzalez are the only ones averaging over one per game.

Stony Brook will look to small forward Kelis Corley, Keenan and the Gonzalez girls to limit Northeastern’s three-point shooting. Corley and Keenan have been two of the team’s best perimeter defenders this year and will likely be tasked with slowing down Vizza, Erdogan and Quéliz.

On the boards, this matchup is about as mismatched as it gets. The Seawolves are the second-best rebounding team in the CAA with 42.4 per game. The Huskies haul in the fewest boards per night, averaging just 33.5.

Bristol is Northeastern’s leading rebounder with 6.1 per game. Erdogan is aggressive on the glass and has averaged 5.2 rebounds per contest. Parker (4.1) and Motema (3.8) were the team’s third and fourth-leading rebounders, meaning Kiefer and the 6-foot Batts will have to pick up the slack.

Another Husky who will get some burn to help clean the glass is 6-foot-3 center Sophia Carlisle, who has only played 49 minutes and grabbed seven rebounds this year. She has been given 10 minutes in each of the last two games.

Stony Brook’s dominance on the glass stems from the trio of Clark, Pittman and King. Clark is fifth in the CAA with 7.6 rebounds per game. Pittman is 10th in the conference with 6.4 boards per contest and King is just barely below her with 6.1. Gigi Gonzalez is also active on the glass, as she averages four rebounds per game.

A win would not only partially avenge the Seawolves’ quarterfinal exit last year but also keep them atop the conference standings. They dodged a bullet on Thursday when North Carolina A&T — who they are tied with for first place — lost 66-62 to Charleston. If Stony Brook can capitalize on some of its many advantages, it should win, but Towson proved on Friday night that there are no guarantees.

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