The players mobbed their coach after the game, raining confetti over her in the locker rooms. The celebration was lively, as the entire team surrounded and cheered for the big moment. After defeating Georgia Southern 72-43 on Tuesday, Nov. 20, coach Caroline McCombs became the program’s winningest coach at the D1 level.
“I’m just really blessed to have the opportunity to coach these young women every day,” McCombs said. “Being at a place like Stony Brook where we have so much support, it’s just an unbelievable place and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to be here. The young women that I’ve had the opportunity to coach over the last five years, I really just can’t thank them enough along with my assistant coaches.”
On the court, the Seawolves were much more serious, as they took care of business against the Eagles. The Seawolves never trailed throughout the game, taking a 4-2 lead seven and a half minutes in on a jump shot from junior forward Oksana Gouchie-Provencher and rolling from there. Senior guard Jerell Matthews led all players with 24 points, leading the team in scoring for the second time this season. Senior guard Shania Johnson and sophomore forward India Pagan dropped 12 and 10 points respectively, marking the third straight game where all three players have scored double-digit points.
Stony Brook broke the game open in the beginning of the second quarter, when they went on a 14-0 run. Georgia Southern sophomore guard Tatum Barber made one of her two free throws 32 seconds into the quarter, and then sophomore guard Jonae Cox began the run with a layup inside the paint. Seven different Seawolves scored during the run, culminating in a free throw by Pagan that gave Stony Brook a 33-8 lead.
The Seawolves pushed the lead to 32 by halftime, capitalizing on a horde of Eagles turnovers. The Seawolves forced 23 turnovers on the Eagles, and scored 29 points off the changed possessions. The Eagles, meanwhile, only created 12 turnovers and scored just nine points off of them.
“It really started with the turnovers,” Georgia Southern head coach Kip Brown said in a press release. “We turned the basketball over 23 times and probably four or five were in the first four minutes of the game. They were runouts and layups. We didn’t give ourselves a chance between the turnovers and their 17 offensive rebounds. We outscored them in the second half 31-28, but in the first half, we didn’t come ready to play.”
Stony Brook did fail to continue to grow the lead in the second half, briefly pushing it to 34 in the opening of the third quarter before Georgia Southern fought back. The Eagles switched from a man defense to a zone after halftime, and Stony Brook’s field goal percentage dropped from 63.3 in the first half to 36.4 in the second. The outcome was largely decided by that point, so it’s unclear if this would’ve had the same effect in a closer game, but it is the second straight performance where the Seawolves came out of the gates strong in the first half and struggled in the second.
The victory puts the Seawolves at a 3-1 record overall, and 2-0 at home. Their next challenge will come on Sunday, Nov. 25 at 2 p.m. when the team travels to Penn State. The Nittany Lions are 4-1 this year, and their lone loss came to a ranked California squad.