The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

77° Stony Brook, NY
The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

Newsletter

Stony Brook women’s basketball notches first-ever national postseason victory

Shooting guard Zaida Gonzalez drives the lane against Drexel on Sunday, March 17. Gonzalez totaled 20 points, five rebounds, two steals and a block in a win over James Madison on Thursday. ANGELINA LIVIGNI/THE STATESMAN

After nine ties and 13 lead changes through the first three quarters, the eighth-seeded Stony Brook women’s basketball team held on to pull out a victory in the first round of the 2024 Women’s Basketball Invitational Tournament (WBIT).

Getting to participate in the first-ever WBIT game, the Seawolves (28-4, 16-2 CAA) took on the top-seeded James Madison Dukes (23-12, 13-5 Sun Belt) in Virginia on Thursday. Point guard Gigi Gonzalez and shooting guard Zaida Gonzalez scored a combined 46 points, helping Stony Brook secure the 81-70 upset victory. The team will now move onto the second round of the tournament to face the fourth-seeded Illinois Fighting Illini on Sunday at 3 p.m.

With the game tied at 59 apiece, the Seawolves took the lead with a three-pointer from power forward Shamarla King just 14 seconds into the fourth quarter. On the ensuing defensive possession, Gigi Gonzalez stripped the ball away from James Madison small forward Carole Miller and knocked down a fast-break layup to put her team up by two possessions.

After scoring the first five points of the final frame, Stony Brook surrendered a three-pointer to small forward Peyton McDaniel, shrinking its lead back to just two. King relieved the pressure for her team by engineering a 7-1 run by herself with a fast-break layup of her own, a three-ball and a pair of made free throws to go up 71-63 with 6:28 left.

After that, the Gonzalez girls took over. A pair of mid-range jump shots by Zaida Gonzalez and a three-point play by Gigi Gonzalez plus two made foul shots helped the Seawolves maintain a cushion of at least two possessions over the rest of the game.

Another three by McDaniel with just 2:45 left in the game cut Stony Brook’s lead down to just five points. However, while the Gonzalezes were going to work on offense, the Seawolves’ defense tightened up and held the Dukes to 0-for-7 shooting from the field for the rest of the night. James Madison misfired on all five of its three-point attempts during the shutdown stretch allowing its opponents to prance into the second round.

Head coach Ashley Langford took pride in her players’ resiliency after watching them lose the conference championship game this past Sunday.

“We’ve gone through a whirlwind of emotion since Sunday,” Langford said in a postgame press conference. “Some teams can’t bounce back, so I’m really proud of our resiliency. We were devastated … and we were all grieving. For them to put out this performance today and leave it all out there on the court and come together as a team and really be focused, I’m really impressed.”

Stony Brook shot the ball relatively well, as it posted a .400/.421/.773 shooting line. On defense, it allowed the Dukes to shoot just 38.6% from the field and 31.8% from deep.

The Gonzalez backcourt did most of the damage in the scoring department for the Seawolves. Gigi Gonzalez finished with 26 points on 9-of-20 shooting while grabbing four rebounds, dishing out three assists and recording one steal. Zaida Gonzalez put up 20 points while shooting 7-for-13 from the field and 4-for-4 from three-point territory. She also added five rebounds, two steals, an assist and a block.

Zaida Gonzalez was happy to shake off the championship loss and get the win.

“To be honest, it took as a little minute to get over the loss of the championship game because that was a game we were all expecting to win,” Gonzalez said. “But I think once we got over that hump and really just locked in … we really wanted to win this game. We were all focused and locked in on getting the dub.”

King had one of her most productive games of the year, as she scored a season-high 17 points while shooting 4-for-7 from the field and 2-for-3 from three-point range. She co-led the team alongside power forward Sherese Pittman with nine rebounds.

Center Khari Clark struggled again, as she shot just 1-for-9. However, she pulled down eight rebounds, blocked two shots and recorded one steal.

Off the bench, shooting guard Victoria Keenan scored six points on 3-of-5 shooting and co-led the team with two steals alongside Zaida Gonzalez and point guard Janay Brantley.

Much of Stony Brook’s success came from turning defense into offense, as it recorded nine steals and scored 25 fast-break points. James Madison only took the ball away three times and scored just five points in transition.

Despite her team coming up short, McDaniel left it all on the floor. She finished with 24 points and shot 9-for-19 from the field and 5-for-10 from deep while hauling in six rebounds and collecting all three of her team’s steals.

After tying their single-season wins record, the Seawolves will look to break it on Sunday when they take on Illinois at the State Farm Center in Champaign, Ill. The Fighting Illini are 15-15 this season after taking down Missouri State 74-69 in the first round on Thursday.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Statesman

Your donation will support the student journalists of Stony Brook University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Kenny Spurrell
Kenny Spurrell, Assistant Sports Editor
Kenny Spurrell is an Assistant Sports Editor of The Statesman. He is a senior English major and journalism minor at Stony Brook University. He began covering sports for The Statesman during the Fall 2021 semester. Since then, he has covered men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s lacrosse and football. His passion for sports derives from his many years of playing basketball, football and baseball. He is a Long Island native from Selden, N.Y. and has dreams of becoming a sports journalist.
Donate to The Statesman

Comments (0)

All The Statesman Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *