WBI First Round Game Preview: Siena vs. Stony Brook

2014-2015 womens team

The Siena women will compete in their first postseason game in a dozen years on Thursday as they take on Stony Brook in the First Round of the Women’s Basketball Invitational. Tip off at the Alumni Recreation Center is scheduled for 7 p.m. The Saints are the No. 3 seed and the Seawolves are the No. 6 seed in the eight-team East Regional. This is just the second time the two teams have ever met with the last coming in 1978 when Siena defeated Stony Brook, 66-46 in Loudonville.

The Saints enter the game with a record of 19-12 in what has been a tremendous turnaround season for the program. After winning just 9 games all of last season, Siena has made a major step forward despite playing with just seven players for most of the season. This will be the program’s 5th postseason appearance and the first since playing in the WNIT in 2003.

Siena is led in scoring and rebounding by freshman forward Margot Hetzke who is averaging 13.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. She was chosen unanimously as the MAAC Rookie of the Year and was selected to the All-MAAC Third Team. She ranks fifth in the MAAC in scoring and 4th in rebounding.

“It’s awesome to have the opportunity to play in postseason,” said Hetzke. “To have the opportunity to win a couple more games and just be together, we’re really blessed. To just be part of a team that has been able to turn the program around has been a huge honor and I think everyone would agree with that.”

For Hetzke, the game will not only allow her to experience the post season for the first time, it will also reunite her with former high school rival Kori Bayne-Walker who plays for the Seawolves. While playing for Penfield High, Hetke faced Bayne-Walker, of Gates-Chili High School, multiple times in the Rochester, NY area sectional finals.

“I’m excited to play Stony Brook. (Bayne-Walker) was on my rivalry team in high school so it will be good to see her again. She’s a great player. She was great in high school and from what I’ve heard she’s doing great at Stony Brook too.”

Senior Tehresa Coles is the Saints’ second leading scorer averaging 13.3 points per game. She was named the MAAC Defensive Player of the Year and was an All-MAAC Second Team selection. Her 300 career steals ranks highest in Siena history and 4th most nationally amongst active players. She is one of just 4 players in MAAC history to reach 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 300 steals and 250 assists.

Sophomore Meghan Donohue also averages in double figures with 10.5 points per game. She is second on the team in rebounding with 5.1 boards per contest and ranks second in the MAAC in field goal percentage with 51.4% shooting. For Donohue, who started out her career with a 9-win freshman season, to have come this far as a team means a lot.

“It’s great for the program to be able to play postseason and it’s great for all of us to keep playing, keep after it and get to play with our seniors a bit more,” Donohue said. “It’s definitely a different year than last year in a great way and it’s been fun. Everyone’s just bought in. We’re trying to get to that 20 (wins). We’ve had a great seaaon so far. We’re ready for this. We want to play postseason. This is what we came here to play for. It’s time to go. It should be a good game, a tough game, a pretty even match I think.”

The game will also have special meaning for Siena head coach Ali Jaques who worked with Stony Brook head coach Caroline McCombs when both were assistants at Northwestern under head coach Joe McKeown from 2010-2012. Jaques said she and McCombs had heard from former players as well as their former boss McKeown, who is coaching Northwestern to their first NCAA appearance since 1997.

“It’s gonna be interesting,” said Jaques. “Coach McCombs is one of my best friends in the business. We worked together. I have respect for her. We recruited against each other when I was at GW and she was at Pitt. Then when we had an opening at Northwestern I was begging Coach McKeown to hire her cause she’s that good.”

RPI Rankings: Siena 168, Stony Brook 192.

Stony Brook holds a record of 17-13 overall after dropping a 49-47 decision to UMBC  in the quarterfinals of the America East Tournament. They finished with a record of 10-6 in the conference earning them a No. 3 seed.

The Seawolves are led by 6-0 senior forward Sabre Proctor, a two-time All-America East First Team selection who averages 14.8 points per game (4th in America East). She had five double-doubles on the season and led the team with 22 double-digit games. Proctor suffered a knee injury late in the first half of Stony Brook’s last game and left on crutches. Her status for Thursday’s game has not been updated.

Kori Bayne-Walker is a 5-5 sophomore guard and All-America East Second Teamer who averages 11.4 points and a league-leading 5.3 assists per game. Third team selection Brittany Snow, a 6-0 junior forward, is also in double figures with 11.2 points per contest while pulling down 6.3 rebounds per game.

Stony Brook was 1-1 versus MAAC opponents this season defeating St. Peter’s 56-40 and losing to Iona 73-62. They were 1-1 against America East Champion, UAlbany.

This is the third overall and second straight postseason tournament appearance for the Seawolves (17-13), who played in the WNIT last season and in 2006.

With a win on Thursday, the Saints would advance to play on Sunday at 2 p.m. either at No. 2 Xavier in Cincinnati, Ohio or versus No. 7 William & Mary at the ARC.

More from Coach Jaques:

“In rebuilding a program and having the pieces in place and just having the challenges we’ve had this year, it’s been one day at a time. But, we strategically sat down as a team and said what do we wanna do in the non conference? What do we wanna do in the conference? And how will that position us for post season play? I just think for us to have a chance to play in a tournament like this is tremendous for our program and our players.”

“When  I coached at GW it was expected  that we were playing in March. That hasn’t been an expectation here for over a decade. So for us to be playing in March and be practicing and for our players to understand that they don’t get a Spring Break and that’s good, that’s a good thing for our program.”

“Twenty (wins) would be great. I’m a little greedy right now. I’m not usually a selfish person but I think 20 would be great. Everything’s a bonus at this point and its just a great opportunity for our young players to learn, for our older olayers to have all their sacrifice pay off. I just want our players to go out and have fun.”

Women’s Basketball Invitational

The Women’s Basketball Invitational provides a choice for postseason worthy Division I Women’s teams who wish to continue their season but who do not qualify for the NCAA tournament. The 16 team event will take place over two weeks with all games being played on campus sites. It is a single elimination tournament divided into two regions with 8 seeded teams in each. For more tournament information visit: www.womensbasketballinvitational.com


Stony Brook 2014-2015 Results:

Sat., Nov. 15 vs. Saint Peter’s W, 56-40   common opponent Siena won twice 65-40 and 64-47

Tue., Nov. 18 at Army L, 68-59

Fri., Nov. 21 vs. Columbia  W, 82-68

Mon., Nov. 24 vs. Bradley  W, 79-63

Fri., Nov. 28 at Duke  L, 72-42

Sun., Nov. 30 at Iona  L, 73-62      common opponent, Siena lost twice in regular season 79-50 and 57-50 but won 71-61 in MAAC Tournament

Wed., Dec. 3 at St. Francis (NY)  L, 57-55

Sun., Dec. 7 at Iowa State L, 74-64

Sat., Dec. 13 at Morgan State W, 50-48

Fri., Dec. 19 vs. Lafayette  W, 60-58

Sun., Dec. 21 at Wagner L, 76-70

Seawolves Holiday Classic

Sun., Dec. 28 vs. Western Michigan  W, 59-55

Mon., Dec. 29 vs. Norfolk State  W, 52-46

Sat., Jan. 3 vs. New Hampshire *  L, 60-52

Wed., Jan. 7 vs. Vermont *  W, 60-38

Wed., Jan. 14 at UMBC *  W, 66-50

Sat., Jan. 17 vs. Maine *  L, 58-55

Mon., Jan. 19 at Albany *  L, 69-59   common opponent, Siena lost 76-57

Thu., Jan. 22 at UMass-Lowell *  W, 64-60

Sun., Jan. 25 vs. Binghamton * W, 67-54 common opponent Siena won 62-53

Thu., Jan. 29 vs. Hartford * L, 60-58

Sun., Feb. 1 at New Hampshire *  W, 60-52

Wed., Feb. 4 at Vermont *  W, 74-62

Wed., Feb. 11 vs. UMBC *  W, 74-41

Sun., Feb. 15 at Maine *  L, 57-49

Wed., Feb. 18 vs. UMass-Lowell *  W, 62-36

Sun., Feb. 22 vs. Albany *  W, 68-64

Thu., Feb. 26 at Binghamton *  W, 68-59

Sun., Mar. 1 at Hartford *  L, 56-49

America East Championship

Sat., Mar. 7 vs. UMBC  L, 49-47

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