Warren’s 31 lifts Stony Brook women to 1st NCAA Tournament

ORONO, Maine — Anastasia Warren scored a career-high 31 points, including the clinching free throws with 0.7 seconds to play, and second-seeded Stony Brook earned its first berth in the NCAA Tournament with a 64-60 win over top-seeded Maine in the America East championship game on Thursday.

The Seawolves survived a frantic closing sequence after Blanca Millan’s layup pulled the Black Bears within 62-60 with 29.3 seconds to play.

Stony Brook threw the ball away on the inbounds but almost forced a turnover back except Maine had the possession arrow with 16.3 seconds left. The Black Bears went for a quick 3 and got the offensive rebound, only to miss again and they had to foul twice to force Warren to the line.

Asiah Dingle added 20 points for Stony Brook (15-5), which shot 48.2% (27 of 56), and had a 42-22 rebounding advantage. Warren led the way with nine rebounds and had all four of the team’s 3-pointers.

Millan scored 20 points for Maine (17-3), which was in its sixth straight title game, 20th overall, and trying for it’s 10 NCAA appearance. Maeve Carroll added 13 points. A good 3-point shooting team, Maine was 4 of 20 behind the arc and shot 42.6% overall but forced 19 turnovers.

The Black Bears led by 11 points late in the second quarter but Warren had a pair of 3s to help Stony Brook get within 36-33 at halftime. Millan opened the second half with a basket but Dingle scored four times inside and Warren had a 3 to give the Seawolves a 44-38 lead.

Carroll gave Maine a 56-55 lead with 2:33 to go but Dingle and Warren scored and Stony Brook held on.

The same two teams were scheduled to play for the championship last season, with Stony Brook the top seed, before COVID halted it.

Stony Brook coach Caroline McCombs is headed to the NCAAs for the sixth time after going as a player for Youngstown State and twice as an assistant at both Valparaiso and Pittsburgh.