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Stony Brook women’s basketball crushes Hofstra to sweep season series

Point guard Gigi Gonzalez penetrates through Hofstra point guard Micaela Carter on Friday, Feb. 16. Gonzalez led the Stony Brook women’s basketball team to a victory with 24 points and six assists against the Pride. STANLEY ZHENG/THE STATESMAN

Despite starting out poorly on defense, the Stony Brook women’s basketball team finished with yet another terrific effort on that end to sweep the Battle of Long Island.

For the eighth time in a row, the Seawolves (20-3, 10-2 CAA) came out victorious over the Hofstra Pride (8-14, 2-9 CAA), this time at Island Federal Arena on Friday night for an 81-48 spanking. Stony Brook held Hofstra to just 36 points on just 21.1% shooting over the final three quarters to secure the season sweep and maintain its position atop the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA).

The first quarter did not reflect the three that followed. Both teams’ offenses were clicking and trading buckets back and forth. After falling behind 16-14, the Seawolves responded with seven unanswered points, highlighted by an and-one layup from power forward Sherese Pittman to go up 21-16. The Pride scored the final six points of the opening frame, ending with a three-pointer by small forward Emma Von Essen to enter the second period up 22-21.

Hofstra went up by three points at the start of the second quarter and maintained that lead through the first three minutes, but turnovers prevented it from distancing any further. With 6:45 left in the first half, point guard Gigi Gonzalez drained a three-pointer from the top to tie the game and a perfect storm of change occurred for Stony Brook.

Gonzalez got red hot, as her three ignited a 15-2 run to give the Seawolves a 40-30 lead entering halftime. She spearheaded the run with 11 points on 4-of-4 shooting while also assisting on a layup from Pittman. On the defensive end, Stony Brook held the Pride to just 2-for-12 from the field and 0-for-5 from three-point range while forcing eight turnovers.

Head coach Ashley Langford was proud of her players for flipping the game on its head after starting off slowly.

“We don’t start games well,” Langford said with a laugh in a postgame press conference. “I think that our team — they work really hard and they put extra effort in and time in so they just trust themselves. And I think that’s what allows us to stay cool, calm and collected in those moments of adversity.”

The Seawolves continued their defensive masterclass in the third quarter. They surrendered just six points on 2-of-11 shooting and forced another seven giveaways. Hofstra scored the first four points of the period before power forward Shamarla King spearheaded an 18-2 run with a pair of free throws, a three-pointer and a strong finish at the rim.

Trailing by 22 points, the Pride never stood a chance in the fourth quarter. Stony Brook had its best offensive showing in the final frame, led by another nine points on 4-of-5 shooting from Gonzalez. After an even-keeled first five minutes, Gonzalez converted on a pair of layups — the second one coming through a foul — to ignite an 11-1 run that ended with a four-point play by point guard Khalis Whiting. After Whiting’s and-one triple, the Seawolves dribbled the game clock out and locked down the blowout.

While Stony Brook’s defense locked it down, its offense went to work. The Seawolves finished with a .492/.391/.737 shooting line. Gonzalez led them with 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting and 2-of-5 three-point shooting. She also led her team with six assists and collected a steal.

Gonzalez was equally important on defense, as she locked Hofstra point guard Ally Knights up and held her without a point or an assist. Overall, the defense allowed just a .294/.143/.615 triple slash to the Pride. Stony Brook forced 23 turnovers, collected 11 steals and rejected four shots.

Gonzalez attributes the lockdown performance to strong execution of the game plan.

“I would just say our principles,” Gonzalez said. “When we lock into that — they can’t score when we do what we do.”

Pittman had an efficient night of her own, scoring 15 points on 5-for-12 shooting with a team-leading seven rebounds. She also recorded a block and a steal on defense.

By simply focusing on getting the job done, Pittman was able to post yet another solid performance.

“Coach always preaches that to finish through contact; we can’t worry about the refs and the call that they make,” Pittman said. “Just focus on finishing.”

Keenan was the only other Seawolf to crack a double-digit scoring total, as she finished with 11 points while shooting 4-for-8 from the field and 3-for-6 from deep. She was integral on defense, as she grabbed five rebounds and was one of three players with two steals. Center Khari Clark and small forward Kelis Corley were the other two.

King had a good night off the bench, scoring nine points on 3-of-5 shooting. She pulled down five rebounds and tallied a block and a steal.

Small forward Lauren Filien was another deadly presence in the paint on Stony Brook’s defensive end. She racked up six rebounds, one steal and one block in just 10 minutes played.

The Seawolves will remain at Island Federal and hope to continue their momentum on Sunday against the Elon Phoenix. The Phoenix are 9-16 overall and 5-7 in CAA play after beating Northeastern 53-37 on Friday. Opening tip-off is set for 1 p.m.

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