With all the buzz in the America East about the Stony Brook-Maine women’s basketball weekend series, one thing was certain following the conclusion of the series: these teams are destined to meet again for a chance to win the America East title.
In Game 1 on Saturday, Stony Brook and Maine started off going neck and neck with each other as the Seawolves scored 13 points in the first two quarters of the game, while Black Bears scored 12 points in both quarters of the first half, putting Stony Brook up 26-24 at halftime. For the Seawolves, junior Asiah Dingle accounted for 9 of her 16 points in the first quarter, including a quick layup to beat the buzzer to end the first quarter.
In the third quarter, the Seawolves had as much as a 10-point lead until Maine started to go on a run, pushing it to a tie at 47 midway through the fourth quarter. Then, after a media timeout with less than 5 minutes to go, Gigi Gonzalez hits the Seawolves’ first 3 of the game to put her team up 52-47. As the Black Bears tried to stay alive, Blanca Millan and Dor Saar’s cold-shooting performance could not keep Maine’s winning streak alive, as Asiah Dingle and Hailey Zeise hit critical free throws in the final seconds of the game.
The Seawolves defeated the Black Bears 54-49, handing Maine their second overall and conference loss of the season, and snapping their 9-game winning streak, pulling to within a game of Maine, making the winner of the next day’s game the leader in the America East.
In the second game, Stony Brook took command of the first half on their Senior Day, having as much as a 16-point lead in the second quarter. The Seawolves led by 8 at halftime, and after entering the 4th quarter leading by 9 and with a chance to sweep the series against Maine and take sole possession of first place, the Black Bears started to utilize their full-court pressure strategy that they have used the last few seasons to force multiple turnovers and take a late lead over the Seawolves, having as much as a 6-point lead with a few minutes left.
Hailey Zeise hit a 3-pointer to pull the Seawolves to within 3, and after getting the ball back down by 3, she could not repeat her deep shot, allowing Maine to rebound and stay in first place in the conference with a 54-49 victory at IFCU Arena. The Seawolves and Black Bears split the season series for the second year in a row.
The Seawolves are now 11-5 overall and remain in second place in the conference with a 9-3 record, while Maine moves to 15-2 overall and 12-2 in the conference. The Seawolves will hit the road again on Friday, February 19, and face the UMass-Lowell Riverhawks, who are coming off a series sweep at home against the New Hampshire Wildcats, in another big conference battle. According to the conference standings and how many games both teams have left, should the Seawolves win at UMass-Lowell, they’ll guarantee a top-two seed in the America East Tournament for the second year in a row.
Stony Brook and UMass-Lowell played a 2-game weekend series back in late December, where both teams captured a win over each other with the Riverhawks taking Game 1 63-60 and the Seawolves taking Game 2 60-44.
Maine will host New Hampshire on Saturday, February 20. The Black Bears split the series with the Wildcats in Durham in the first weekend of January with the Wildcats upsetting the Black Bears in Game 1 58-57 and the Black Bears striking back 76-56 in Game 2.