On March 1, Stony Brook’s women’s basketball team did something no other America East team had been able to do since Jan. 28, 2012. The Seawolves snapped Albany’s record 38-game America East winning streak, and what’s more, they did it on the Great Danes’ home floor.
Just nine days later, the Seawolves (24-7) have to try and repeat the feat, but this time, they are playing Albany (27-4) for the league title and automatic NCAA bid that goes to the winner at 4 p.m. Monday at SEFCU Arena. This time, it’s Stony Brook that comes in with an impressive streak – three straight wins at SEFCU after tournament triumphs over UMBC on Friday and Saturday’s 79-59 semifinal rout over New Hampshire.
“It’s going to be a big game,” Seawolves guard Jessica Ogunnorin said of the title rematch of Stony Brook's upset of the Danes. “We respect their players, and we’re both athletic, so, it’s going to be a hustle game, like rebounding and just diving for loose balls.”
Ogunnorin helped set the tone for that style of play against New Hampshire, covering hot Wildcats shooter Elizabeth Belanger like a blanket in the second half and scrambling for five of the Seawolves’ 20 offensive rebounds to create extra possessions. It’s going to take a similar defensive effort to contain the Great Danes, especially conference player of the year Shereesha Richards and 6-8 center Megan Craig. That pair combined for 42 points in the Great Danes’ semifinal win over Hartford.
“You have to be so impressed with what Albany has done,” Stony Brook coach Beth O’Boyle said. “It’s two and a half years they have won games in America East. They’re very talented. Defensively, we have to make sure we’re on the same page. We wanted to get to the championship game, and they accomplished that today.”
O’Boyle has Stony Brook playing its best basketball at the right time of the year. Even if they lose, they are assured of a WNIT bid, which the program accomplished just once previously in 2006. But despite the odds against scoring two straight wins at Albany, the Seawolves have the advantage of knowing it can be done.
Reflecting on their 66-56 win over the Danes just over a week ago, O’Boyle said, “For 40 minutes, they were dialed into the gameplan, and they really executed it. There was no letup. We’re going to make sure we do some of the same things we did last time again and probably even better.”