The first game of the 2021 America East Women’s Basketball Tournament for the Stony Brook Seawolves is a chance for their 2nd-straight semifinal win and earning the right to advance to the America East Championship against either at Maine or hosting UAlbany.
The Seawolves completed the regular season with a 2-2 non-conference record with losses against potential tournament teams in Fordham and Syracuse and back-to-back wins over preseason MAAC favorite Manhattan and L.I. rival Hofstra. Entering conference play, they earned 3 splits with UMass-Lowell, New Hampshire, and Maine, joining New Hampshire as the only two teams to beat Maine overall this season. The Seawolves achieved an 11-3 conference record, the second best in terms of conference winning percentage this season.
The UMass-Lowell Riverhawks enter the semifinal round coming off a 72-52 quarterfinal win at Costello Athletic Center against the #6-seed NJIT Highlanders after a hard-fought first half turned into an offensive shootout by UMass-Lowell in the second half. They finished the regular season with an 11-8 record, finishing 10-6 in the conference, 3rd-best behind Maine and Stony Brook. Their win in the first of the two game series against Stony Brook back in late December was their first-ever win against the Seawolves in program history before falling the next day to the same team.
The Seawolves’ defense will be tested on Sunday afternoon when they face a Riverhawks squad has put up at 70 points over their last 3 games, led by their All-Conference First Team honoree Denis Solis, who’s been averaging 11.6 PPG, the most on the team, 8th in the conference, and has a 55.8% field goal shooting, the best in the conference.
Stony Brook will look to utilize their offense when they have their leading scorer, Asiah Dingle, leading the way with India Pagan and Annie Warren as the top scorers on the team. Dingle and Pagan won All-Conference Second Team honors, Warren won All-Conference Third Team, and Hailey Zeise was named to the All-Defensive team after leading the team in blocks and steals overall this season.
Last season, the Riverhawks won their first playoff game in program history while hosting a playoff game for the first time ever, advancing to the semifinals before falling to then #2-seed Maine, thus ending their season. The Seawolves hosted the entire tournament last season when they were the #1-seed in the playoffs for the first time in school history, defeating UAlbany in the quarterfinals and then Binghamton in the semifinals before the America East Championship was cancelled due to COVID-19.
This will be the first ever meeting in the postseason between the Seawolves and the Riverhawks, as the Seawolves will look to advance to the America East Championship for the first time since 2014, while the Riverhawks look to capture their 3rd-ever playoff win and see their first-ever America East Championship appearance on Sunday, starting at 3pm.