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.
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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.''