The Stony Brook Women’s Basketball is finally about to play the type of game they have not played yet in their over-20 seasons in Division I: an NCAA D-I tournament game.
On Sunday, March 14, two days after winning the America East Championship for the first time in school history, the Seawolves learned that they will be the #14-seed in Alamo Region of the tournament, and will play the #3-seed Arizona Wildcats, who are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2005.
The Seawolves, who went 28-3 last season, were suppose to host the 2020 America East Championship at IFCU Arena until COVID-19 abruptly ended the season before they could play. A year later, they complete their unfinished business by getting back-to-back conference titles and claim their first-ever trip to the NCAA D-I Women’s Basketball tournament.
In this season’s championship game, after trailing 34-23 midway through the 2nd quarter, the Seawolves used a 19-4 run between the 2nd and 3rd quarter to take a 42-38 lead, and after multiple lead changes during the second half, the Seawolves made a couple of late clutch shots, including Warren’s floater-and-one, and Dingle’s layup to put Stony Brook up by 4 with 32 seconds left. With a defensive stand in the last 30 seconds, the Seawolves won it all.
On Monday, March 21, they will play in the Alamodome to play against the Arizona Wildcats, the first all-time meeting between both schools. Arizona, from the Pac-12 Conference, finished 2nd in the standings at 13-4. As the #2 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament, they defeated #7-seed Washington State before falling to the #3-seed UCLA Bruins, who are also a #3-seed in the tournament and will face #14-seed Wyoming in the Hemisfair Region.
The Wildcats harbor this season’s Pac-12 Player and back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year Aari McDonald. She led the conference with 19.3 PPG and 2.7 STL/G. Last season, she saw a career-high 44 points in her team’s 83-58 win at then-#22 Texas 83-58. In her freshman season, McDonald broke the program’s single-season record in points that was previously held by her current head coach, Adia Barnes, who just recently received a contract extension, guaranteeing her tenure at Arizona until the 2025-26 season.
For the Seawolves, Warren had a career-high 31 points against the Black Bears after finishing as an All-Conference Third Team selection in back-to-back seasons, while Asiah Dingle was named All-Conference Second Team selection in her first season at Stony Brook, she broke the 1000-point mark in the championship game, almost two months after her teammate, India Pagan, who was also named to the All-Conference Second Team, hit that milestone on January 17 at New Hampshire.
Their head coach, Caroline McCombs, who is in her 7th season, has reshaped the team’s culture over the last few seasons the same way Adia Barnes has done for her alma mater. McCombs has helped the Seawolves improve each season starting from when they were the worst seed in the 2017 America East Tournament, to finishing 4th in 2018, 3rd in 2019, conference regular-season title in 2020, and conference champions this season.
The Seawolves and Wildcats’ game at the Alamodome will be the second game played at that venue on Monday at 2pm, with the winner advancing to play the winner of #6 Rutgers-#11 BYU on Wednesday, March 24.