It wasn’t the best of seasons for the Stony Brook women, but they made it interesting at the end.
Senior forward Kirsten Jeter ended her career on a high note with 17 points and 11 rebounds in the Seawolves 74-65 loss to top-seeded UMBC in an America East quarterfinal on Friday night. Jeter, who also scored her 1,500th career point in the game, was an All-America East second-team selection.
A loss is a loss and no team wants to lose, but there are a lot of positives to take from the game if you’re a Stony Brook fan. Sure, the Seawolves final record (7-23) is something no one wants to remember. But the last few weeks were an eye-opener for the program.
Wins over Maine (76-55) and Binghamton (54-37) and close losses to Hartford (67-63) and Boston (72-68) University, could serve as a foreshadowing.
The reason for the optimistic feelings: the emergence of Juanita Cochran. Cochran had a career-high 22 points in the win over Binghamton, eight points and eight rebounds in the win over Maine on Thursday night and 15 points and seven rebounds against UMBC.
The 6-2 sophomore center had been dealing with a stress fracture this season, which limited her effectiveness early on. If Cochran returns healthy next season, the Seawolves could surprise.
Interim coach Evelyn Thompson certainly sees the potential.
Said Thompson: “Let me first say that the words to describe this team… I mean I can’t even come up with the words to truly describe this team. Exceptional is what I will say because these young women could have easily folded based on all of the adversities we have been through this year. But they haven’t and instead they have grown into this fantastic team that I am so, so proud of and so blessed to have coached.”
Stony Brook loses seniors Jeter, Misha Horsey and Jodie Plikus. But Horsey and Plikus played in a total of nine games this season. Everyone else returns, including Cochran, second and third-leading scorer Sam Landers and Destiny Jacobs and junior guard Tamiel Murray.
So there is talent, enough to warrant feelings of hope for next season.
The question is who is going to coach the team next season. Thompson took over for Michele Cherry. Stony Brook athletics director Jim Fiore announced earlier this season the program would conduct a national search for a coach.
Although the record doesn’t reflect it, the Seawolves played well down the stretch, which speaks well for Thompson.