ALBANY - If Stony Brook's women's basketball team could pick its spots, it gladly would have swapped its upset on March 1 that snapped Albany's record 38-game America East winning streak for a victory in yesterday afternoon's conference championship game.
But that's not the way life works. The Great Danes admittedly came out with revenge on their minds, and they got it in full measure with a dominating 70-46 triumph at SEFCU Arena. They earned their third straight America East title and the conference's NCAA Tournament bid.
The Seawolves must console themselves with the WNIT bid they received as the next-highest-seeded team behind the champs.
Albany (28-4) took a 24-8 lead in the early going, forcing the first six of 22 turnovers by Stony Brook (24-8), and 6-9 center Megan Craig denied any thoughts the Seawolves might have had about getting to the rim for easy baskets. SBU shot 24.5 percent from the field, a record low in the conference final, and went 1-for-15 from three-point range.
"Albany played a great game today,'' SBU coach Beth O'Boyle said. "They started the game with a lot of intense pressure, and it forced us to get back on our heels a little bit. When you're playing in the championship game, you need to make a few more baskets than we did today.''
It hurt the Seawolves to see starting guard Miranda Jenkins standing behind the bench with a soft cast on the right knee she injured in Sunday's semifinal win over New Hampshire. They missed her energy and offensive ability. "I could hear Miranda calling plays and screaming from the bench,'' O'Boyle said. "Her character came through tonight.''
Jessica Ogunnorin (10 points, seven rebounds), who was named to the all-tournament team along with Chikilra Goodman (six points, eight rebounds), was the only SBU player with as many as two field goals in the first half. Sabre Proctor and Brittany Snow, who each had 12 points, struggled when Craig (seven points, six rebounds, two blocks) was in the game.
"It's tough,'' Proctor said. "She's 6-9 and a big presence in the post. We wanted to attack her, but it's hard. We were trying to kick out to shooters, but our shots just weren't falling.''
Stony Brook double-teamed tournament MVP Shereesha Richards (26 points, 11-for-15 shooting, seven rebounds, four steals), but Tammy Phillip scored 10 of her 13 points in the first half as Albany built a 36-20 lead at the break. Sarah Royals added 19 points and eight assists and got in the last shot at the Seawolves.
Royals said the previous loss to SBU "was fresh in our minds. The whole team wanted Stony Brook to win . We wanted revenge. You don't mess up our perfect season.''
The Great Danes were perfectly happy to beat Stony Brook when it counted most, but the Seawolves still have the WNIT.
"We're still playing in the postseason, and it hasn't been done here in years,'' Proctor said. "I'm excited about that. We've still got a lot of fight in us.''
ALBANY - Stony Brook squandered all but three points of a 16-point second-half lead, but that was just for dramatic effect. When the Seawolves had to have it, sophomore guard Carson Puriefoy III knifed inside for the clinching layup with 10 seconds left in a 69-64 victory over Hartford in an America East Tournament semifinal Sunday night at SEFCU Arena.
The second-seeded Seawolves (23-9) advanced to the conference championship game at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Pritchard Gym against fourth-seeded Albany (17-14), which upset top-seeded Vermont, 67-58, earlier in the day. As the highest remaining seed, Stony Brook gets to host what will be the final game at 1,630-seat Pritchard Gym before the move to 4,008-seat Stony Brook Arena next season.
Two years ago, when SBU hosted a title-game loss to Vermont, it was played in a temporary setup in the larger arena because of a conference seating requirement that since has been waived.
"I'm pleased with getting another chance to go play in Pritchard,'' coach Steve Pikiell said. "It will be nice to bring some March Madness to our campus, and I know our guys love Pritchard.''
Ahead by 15 points with just over seven minutes to play, the Seawolves seemed to have the game well in hand. But their demons from postseasons past surfaced as third-seeded Hartford (16-16) went on a 12-0 run and got within 64-61 on Mark Nwakamma's layup with 3:40 left.
Stony Brook still led by four when Nwakamma got to the rim for two shots. America East player of the year Jameel Warney altered the first attempt and blocked the second with 1:34 left.
"In my opinion, he made the biggest play of the game, stopping Nwakamma twice at the rim,'' Puriefoy said. "We're all glad we have a shot-blocker back there.''
Dave Coley forced his way into the paint with 51 seconds left and hit a tough floater for a 67-61 margin, but Hartford's Corban Wroe banged in a right-wing three-pointer with 44 seconds left to make it 67-64. From there, the Seawolves ran the clock down until Puriefoy put it in the win column.
"Drawing defenders and dishing to them is what I do best,'' Puriefoy said. "Either finish or get my teammates involved.''
Puriefoy had 21 points and four assists. The Seawolves also got 14 points from Anthony Jackson, who made 4 of 6 three-pointers, and 10 points and nine rebounds from Warney. They shot 64 percent in the second half.
Wroe topped Hartford with 21 points, making 7 of 9 from long range, and Nwakamma added 16 points and six rebounds.
Asked if Albany's upset of Vermont gave Stony Brook some extra juice, Jackson said, "Yeah, I think so. This was the same position as last year, playing in the semifinal. The juice was there from day one of preseason.''
The Seawolves built a 28-21 lead, but tired of seeing Puriefoy drive the lane, Hartford coach John Gallagher switched to a 1-3-1 zone, with immediate dividends. Stony Brook committed three straight turnovers and didn't score or even shoot in the paint during the last six minutes of the half.
Pikiell told his team at halftime that had to change.
"Yeah, I said, 'Enough with the jump shots,' '' Pikiell said. "We started getting the ball inside and getting them to foul.''
The Seawolves opened the second half with a 24-10 run that pushed the lead to a high of 57-41 on Puriefoy's layup. At that point, Stony Brook was shooting 78.6 percent in the half (11-for-14).
Having survived the last-second scare from Hartford, the Seawolves now face Albany for the automatic NCAA Tournament bid.
"It's going to be a great game,'' Warney said. "Emotional. It should be a classic.''
ALBANY -- Coming down the stretch of another 20-win season, Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell was happy enough with his team. But it nagged at him that the defense wasn't up to his standards, so that's where he put the focus during a week of practice for Saturday's America East Tournament opener at SEFCU Arena against Maine, the conference's highest-scoring team.
Consider it mission accomplished for round one. The Seawolves dominated defensively in an 80-54 victory, forcing the Black Bears to shoot a season-low 30.9 percent from the field and clawing away 23 turnovers that SBU turned into a 26-8 advantage in points off turnovers.
"All week, Coach stressed the need to pick the defense up," Carson Puriefoy III said. "His motto was: 'Men only.' We played like that."
Post man Jameel Warney, who was named conference player of the year on Friday, took it a step further. "We practiced having great energy all week," he said. "The last few games, we played like scared boys. Tonight, we played like men. The energy came at a great time."
Second-seeded Stony Brook (22-9) will face third-seeded Hartford (17-15) at 7:15 Sunday night in a semifinal. The Hawks beat Binghamton (7-23) in the fourth quarterfinal, 69-42.
Top-seeded Vermont (22-9) earned a 77-60 victory over New Hampshire (6-24) and will meet fourth-seeded host school Albany (16-14), an 86-56 winner over UMBC (9-21), which had a seven-man roster after several player suspensions.
A year ago, top-seeded Stony Brook was upset in the semifinals by Albany on the Great Danes' home floor, so the Seawolves have a feeling of returning to the scene of the crime. "We have a bad taste from last year," Warney said. "We wanted to come out, set a mood, take good shots and share the ball."
In the early going, Stony Brook's shots weren't falling, but it didn't matter because the Seawolves' defense was overpowering. Maine missed 13 of its first 16 shots and turned the ball over repeatedly against pressure. Stony Brook went on a 27-5 run for a 35-12 lead, with Warney and Puriefoy getting to the basket and totaling 13 of those points.
"We had an advantage on the inside," Puriefoy said. "We could post up Jameel and Eric [McAlister] and work inside out. We started off early inside and let the offense come to us, and then our defense created more for our offense. We just kind of rode that wave throughout the game."
When the Seawolves didn't score, they drew fouls and got to the line. The lead reached 27 points late in the first half, and a 12-2 SBU run to open the second half pushed it to 34 at 61-27. From there, it was like batting practice for Sunday's semifinal.
Warney (15 points, eight rebounds, four blocked shots, two steals) was a force inside and Puriefoy (14 points, three assists, three steals) was complemented on the perimeter by Dave Coley (13 points, five rebounds, three steals). Rayshaun McGrew (nine points, nine rebounds) played well off the bench.
The Seawolves held Maine (6-23), which was led by Xavier Pollard's 11 points, to 3-for-19 shooting from three-point range.
"We can score points, but it's always about defense," Pikiell said. "Today we forced 23 turnovers. We swarmed, we were athletic. Jameel was active with four blocks, and that gives us a different presence in the middle . . . I liked the way we approached it."
Stony Brook, N.Y. – America East Defensive Player of the Year and senior guard Chikilra Goodman tallied 12 points and six rebounds as the No. 2 Stony Brook women’s basketball team topped No. 7 UMBC, 61-49, in the conference quarterfinals. The win was the first for the #Seawolves in a conference championship game since March 3, 2011, a 76-55 triumph over No. 8 Maine in the play-in game.
Goodman added three assists and two steals to her balanced effort for Stony Brook (23-7). Jessica Ogunnorin finished with a team-high 13 points, and freshman guard Kristie Costantino tallied a career-high eight points. Junior forward Sabre Proctor grabbed 10 rebounds.
UMBC’s Sara Tarbert led all scorers with 17 points as the Retrievers’ season ends with a 4-25 mark.
Head Coach Beth O’Boyle’s Reaction
“I thought it was a great game. I have a lot of respect for Coach Stern. His team always plays hard, and we knew that we would have to play well to earn the win today. I think we did a great job of really pressuring the ball, which allowed us to get some points off of turnovers. Our players executed on offense and did an excellent job on the offensive glass. I think those extra-chance points were the difference in the game.”
UMBC took a 7-5 lead on a Tarbert layup at the 15:29 mark of the first half, but Stony Brook took complete control for the remainder of the first half. Ogunnorin scored a hoop to even it at 7-all with 15:12 until the break. KoriBayne-Walker knocked down two free throws as 12:26 to put Stony Brook ahead, and Proctor drained a jump shot about 30 ticks later that extended the lead to 11-7.
The Seawolves weren’t even close to being done yet. A trifecta and layup by Costantino gave Stony Brook a 14-point lead, 21-7, at 6:36, and Jenkins capped the 20-0 run when Goodman found her in the paint for a bucket for a 25-7 Stony Brook advantage with 5:13 on the clock.
Inside the Numbers
Bayne-Walker tallied seven points, four rebounds and tied Goodman with a team-high three assists and two steals.
Costantino was 3-for-4 from the floor and also had a team-high two steals.
Stony Brook held a 42-35 advantage on the boards and led on the offensive glass, 20-10.
The Seawolves forced 23 turnovers.
News and Notes
Stony Brook’s semifinal berth is its first since 2010, when it fell to Hartford, 65-43.
The Seawolves are one win shy of tying the 1986-87 team for most single-season wins in school history (24). They already own the Division I wins record and also claimed 23 victories in 1983-84 at the Division III level.
O’Boyle picked up her first America East Championship win.
The Seawolves improved to 7-12 in the conference tournament.
Ogunnorin has scored in double figures in six consecutive games.
SB’s eight-game winning streak ties the 1999-00 team for the longest in the program’s Division I history.
Stony Brook took a 13-12 edge in the all-time series with UMBC.
Stony Brook will look to secure its second trip to the finals in school history when it takes on the winner of No. 3 New Hampshire vs. No. 6 Vermont Sunday on ESPN3. The program last qualified for the title game during its inaugural season in the league as a seven-seed in 2001-02. Tip is slated for either 11 a.m. or 1:15 p.m. at SEFCU Arena. The Seawolves will play at 11 a.m. if No. 1 Albany is upset by No. 8 Binghamton in the quarterfinals and 1:15 p.m. should the Great Danes advance.
Stony Brook, N.Y. - WUSB 90.1 FM, the longtime home of Stony Brook University Sports has announced it's Spring #Seawolves Broadcast Schedule...Longtime veteran broadcaster Matt Mankiewich will anchor the baseball/lacrosse broadcasts this Spring, while Brendan Chamberlain and Stony Brook alum Frank Barile return as lacrosse analysts...Newcomer Joe Soccoa will contribute with baseball this Spring... All of Stony Brook Spring coaches will be interviewed during #Seawolves Sports Weekly, Sunday's, 10 p.m. on WUSB www.wusb.fm/sports
Beth O'Boyle arrived at Stony Brook three years ago with what she described as a "clear vision" of how to transform the women's basketball program. But in the darkest days of that first 4-26 season in 2011-12, she concedes it was difficult to see very far down the road.
"When you're going through that first year and you win a game in January and you don't win another game until the following November, it tests your confidence level and your commitment," O'Boyle said recently. "Year three is much nicer than year one, but it's a process. You have to go through those bumps so you can enjoy things a little bit more when you get to this point."
Year three of the O'Boyle transformation has turned out better than anyone could have imagined. After making a 10-win improvement in O'Boyle's second season, the Seawolves (22-7, 13-3 America East) have leaped another eight wins and counting, entering the conference tournament as the second seed for their quarterfinal opener against UMBC (4-24, 3-15) at noon tomorrow at SEFCU Arena on the Albany campus.
You want to go into the tournament with lots of confidence and being healthy, and we'll have a good run at it," O'Boyle said.
The Seawolves accomplished that goal in grand fashion, upsetting top-seeded defending champion Albany (25-4, 15-1) in the regular-season finale at SEFCU Arena and snapping the Great Danes' record 38-game America East winning streak. Now, a postseason berth is within the Seawolves' grasp -- either the automatic NCAA berth that goes to the winner of the conference tournament or the WNIT bid that goes to the highest-seeded team after the America East champion.
Stony Brook made the 2006 Women's NIT, but that is the only postseason bid in the program's Division I history. "Postseason in general is a huge jump for this program," O'Boyle said.
O'Boyle came to Stony Brook as the assistant head coach at Canisius after previously serving as head coach at Division III Montclair State in New Jersey. "When I looked at the Stony Brook job, I thought it was a hidden gem in the America East," O'Boyle said. "You're close to New York City; it has great academics and unbelievable facilities. They hadn't really tapped into the local recruiting area. We went after New York, Philly and the D.C.-Maryland area."
Her first recruiting class included Jessica Previlon, who has gone on to play professionally in Europe and Sabre Proctor, who transferred from North Carolina A & T and had to sit out that first season. She's now a junior and the third-leading scorer in the conference with a 14.9 average. She wanted to be closer to her home in Harrisburg, Pa., but was uncertain about Stony Brook because of the new coach.
"But Coach O'Boyle just connected," Proctor said. "I felt like this was the place for me to be. She had this feistiness in her, the kind of coach I would want to push me to make me better.
"One of the big reasons I came here is because they were one of the worst programs. I didn't want to go to a big school and just be another player. I wanted to make an impact. Here, I'm a big fish in a little pond. I wanted to help bring the program up, which the team and coach O'Boyle have done."
Three other major recruits were transfer guard Chikilra Goodman (11.8 points, 7.8 rebounds), who is now a senior, sophomore guard Brittany Snow (9.9 points, 5.1 rebounds) and soph guard Miranda Jenkins (7.3 points). Junior guard Jessica Ogunnorin (8.9 points, 7.5 rebounds) arrived this season as a transfer, and 5-5 freshman point guard Kori Bayne-Walker (5.1 points) has been a dynamic presence off the bench.
"I do enjoy coaching athleticism," O'Boyle said. "We really tried to get after it in our recruiting . . . This year, our offensive style was able to change because of the players we recruited. Controlling the boards is a big deal. Jess, Sabre, Chikilra and Brittany do a great job of that, and then, we're able to run. I think every kid loves to play an up-tempo style."
Proctor said the biggest accomplishment for this year's team was learning to win rather than settle for playing close games. Now, the Seawolves are dreaming of bigger things. "We want to win and to make it to the NCAA or the WNIT," Proctor said. "It would be making history. It hasn't been done here in some time. We have a special group. It can be done this year or next year."
The game was right where Albany coach Will Brown wanted it. His Great Danes led by 10 points with less than eight minutes to play, and their defense was making it hard for Stony Brook to score inside.
Then Seawolves freshman Ahmad Walker fought to the rim for a three-point play and a layup. That ignited the offense before the seniors took over on Senior Day, completing a 21-2 run that l ed to a 73-68 Stony Brook victory on Sunday in the final regular-season game at 1,630-seat Pritchard Gym.
The raucous home court that will give way to 4,008-seat Stony Brook Arena next season took its final bow, too. "We opened Pritchard with a win, and this was a great game to close it," coach Steve Pikiell said. "I went with the seniors down the stretch. You saw the shots they were making . . . This group was 49-15 in conference play in four years."
After Walker's baskets, senior guard Dave Coley made a three-pointer before senior forward Eric McAlister's layup tied the score at 55 with 5:00 left. Then Coley added two more three-pointers, the last of which came from NBA range and had the crowd roaring. Senior guard Anthony Jackson's three capped the 21-2 run for a 66-57 lead with 1:32 left.
"You hit one and then two, and the basket looks like the ocean," Coley said. "The crowd had a lot to do with that. The energy gets you pumped."
Added Jackson, who passed the 1,000-point mark, "I think it set in for all of us that Pritchard has been good for us."
Albany scored 11 points in its next four possessions, hitting three three-pointers, to make it 71-68 with 13 seconds left. But Jackson's two free throws with eight seconds left sealed it.
Coley scored 17 points, hitting 5 of 8 threes, and was joined in double figures by Jackson (13 points, six assists), McAlister (13 points), Walker (11 points, nine rebounds, five assists) and Jameel Warney (10 points). Albany got 15 points each from Sam Rowley, DJ Evans and Peter Hooley and 11 from Gary Johnson.
Second-seeded Stony Brook (21-9, 13-3 America East) will face No. 7 Maine to open the conference tournament at 6 p.m. Saturday at SEFCU Arena on the Albany campus. The Great Danes (15-14, 9-7) dropped to No. 4, meaning the Seawolves won't have to face them in Albany, as they did in a semifinal loss last season.
Looking back at Sunday's ending, Brown had to smile at his defensive instructions. "I told the guys to make Coley a shooter, and he shot it," he said. "Coley put in some daggers. I tip my hat to him. He kept backing up further and further . . . Their seniors made big plays on Senior Day."
Albany, N.Y. –Powered by junior guard Jessica Ogunnorin’s career-high 18 points, the Stony Brook women’s basketball team ended Albany’s 38-game America East winning streak in a 66-56 upset Saturday afternoon on ESPN3. Senior guard Chikilra Goodman recorded a double-double on 13 points and 14 rebounds.
Sophomore forward Brittany Snow put in 11 points for Stony Brook (22-7, 13-3 America East). The Seawolves locked up the No. 2 seed for next weekend’s conference tournament, matching their highest seed in program history. They were also No. 2 in 2006-07.
The loss was the first for Albany (25-4, 15-1) since Jan. 28, 2012, a 62-55 setback to Hartford, the longest streak in conference history.
Head Coach Beth O’Boyle’s Reaction
“We wanted to go into the America East Championship feeling good. I have such respect for Katie and her players. We knew we needed to play a complete game to win it, and I am so proud of our players for playing so hard.”
Stony Brook led nearly the entire game. Up by five, 45-40, with 8:57 left, Goodman put in a layup to spark a 15-5 spurt that gave Stony Brook its largest lead of the game, 60-45, at the 4:18 mark. The Great Danes rallied, pulling to within seven, 60-53, when Sarah Royals put in a layup with just under 90 ticks to play.
MirandaJenkins made it a nine-point game on a pair of free throws at the 1:02 mark, but Erin Coughlin nailed a triple to get Albany within 62-56 with 43 ticks left and then stole the ball from Ogunnorin. But TammyPhillips. could not put in a 3-pointer, and Ogunnorin grabbed the defensive board.
Jenkins knocked down two more free throws as the lead stretched to 64-56 with 31 seconds on the clock, and Goodman hustled to come away with a steal on the other end and was fouled. Though she missed both, Coughlin’s trey was off the mark, and Snow sank a pair of free throws to put Stony Brook ahead, 66-56, with nine seconds remaining.