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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Stony Brook women’s basketball clinches top seed and share of regular-season title

Power forward Sherese Pittman lays one up with the left hand against North Carolina A&T on Sunday, March 3. Pittman scored a career-high 30 points to lead the Stony Brook women’s basketball team to a big win. CHRISTOPHER YANG/THE STATESMAN

Behind power forward Sherese Pittman’s career game, the Stony Brook women’s basketball team clinched the top seed in the 2024 Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) women’s basketball tournament.

With a 30-point effort from Pittman the Seawolves (23-3, 14-2 CAA) defeated the North Carolina A&T (N.C. A&T) Aggies (18-9, 12-4 CAA) 76-62 at Island Federal Arena on Sunday afternoon. Pittman became the third different Stony Brook player to score exactly 30 points this year, and her effort helped it clinch at least a share of the CAA’s regular-season title.

Unlike most of their recent games, the Seawolves began this one off on the right foot. However, so did the N.C. A&T. Both teams went back and forth in the first quarter, but Stony Brook clung onto a 18-16 lead by the end of it on the back of six points from shooting guard Zaida Gonzalez and five from Pittman.

The back-and-forth scoring continued through the first six minutes of the second quarter. The Aggies cut the Seawolves’ lead back down to two points with a layup by power forward Paris Locke, but Pittman got that bucket right back with one of her own at the 4:10 mark. Starting with Pittman’s first layup, she scored each of Stony Brook’s next seven points with a free throw, another finish around the basket and a mid-range jump shot.

With just 45 seconds left in the first half, small forward Kelis Corley found power forward Shamarla King at the top, who drained a catch-and-shoot three to go up by 10 points. A driving layup by Locke cut the lead down to eight by halftime, but Pittman’s efforts had fully flipped the momentum in the Seawolves’ favor.

After carrying her team to a comeback victory on Friday night, Pittman had 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting by intermission. Head coach Ashley Langford said Pittman was built for big games like Friday and Sunday.

“I’ve known Reese [for] a long time, and she’s always been a dog,” Langford said in a postgame press conference. “She’s always been excited about these moments. Some people shy away from these moments, Reese wants these moments. She’s peaking at the right time, and I can see it in her eyes.”

At the start of the third quarter, point guard Gigi Gonzalez knocked down a second-chance three-pointer off a dish from Zaida Gonzalez to extend Stony Brook’s lead to 11. Over the next eight minutes, N.C. A&T got within six points before Pittman took over once again.

Just inside the third quarter’s final minute, Pittman drove the lane and drew a foul from Locke before hitting both free throws. On the next possession, Pittman went right at Locke again and sank a layup over her through a foul to disqualify her. Pittman rubbed salt in Locke’s wound by converting the and-one to restore Stony Brook’s 11-point cushion entering the final frame.

With 21 points through three quarters, the Seawolves turned to Pittman to close the game out in the fourth. She opened the period by carving through the Aggies’ interior defense and laying one in through a foul. After falling behind by 13 points, N.C. A&T small forwards D’Mya Tucker and Talia Davis combined for nine points over an 11-6 stretch to cut the deficit down to just seven points with five minutes remaining.

Stony Brook’s defense weathered the storm after its lead shrunk to seven points, and Pittman restored some momentum by taking a hack and converting a pair of free throws. Shooting guard Victoria Keenan kept the tide rolling in the Seawolves’ favor by flagging down a long rebound and taking it coast to coast before feeding King in the paint, who hit a layup.

After getting another stop on defense, Keenan pulled the trigger from deep and missed, but King pulled down the offensive board and swung it over to Pittman, who remained unstoppable at the rim. These six unanswered points restored Stony Brook’s 13-point advantage with just three minutes left, which was too much for the Aggies to overcome.

Over the final three minutes, N.C. A&T made just two field goals and committed two turnovers. Pittman and Gigi Gonzalez iced the game with free throws and they became regular-season champions of the CAA.

The Seawolves will take a little bit of time to celebrate their first-ever CAA regular-season title, but Langford’s eyes are still ahead.

“The most important game is the next one up,” Langford said. “We’re always in the moment, we’re going to enjoy this all day. They can enjoy this all day and tomorrow … and then it’s time to move on to the next opponent. That’s our philosophy regardless of if [the trophy] is here or not here … and that’s the consistent part of us and that helps us be successful and stay focused.”

Pittman’s 30-point performance was physically dominant, as she scored 16 in the paint and earned 17 free-throw attempts, making 12 of them. She also led the team with nine rebounds and four assists.

Pittman attributed her performance to maintaining an aggressive mindset.

“Just staying in attack mode,” Pittman said. “My teammates trust in me and I also trust them 100%, but really just staying in attack mode all game.”

Gigi Gonzalez was second on the team with 16 points on 5-of-11 shooting. She was most integral in the third quarter, where she scored 11 points.

After playing well in her last-ever game at Island Federal, Gonzalez reflected on her five-year career and paid homage to the fanbase.

“Seeing the growth from when I first got here and now is a full 180,” Gonzalez said. “It’s so amazing to come out and see people who like to watch women’s basketball.”

King also stood out, scoring 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting, 2-of-4 of which was from deep. She also pulled down seven boards and collected a steal.

Stony Brook will end its regular season down in Virginia next week, starting with a matchup on Thursday at the Hampton Pirates. The Pirates are 3-23 this year and 3-13 in CAA play after losing 64-60 to Northeastern on Sunday. Opening tip-off for Thursday’s game is set for 7 p.m.

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