The first half of the Stony Brook Women’s Basketball game against Maine was a shootout. Both teams shot poorly from the three-point line, but made the most of their chances in the paint. To that point, the Seawolves trailed by a narrow 31-28 margin.
After head coach Caroline McCombs’ halftime speech, it became an entirely different game for the Seawolves.
“It was to just be aggressive and to be in our gaps and follow our principles on defense,” senior guard Kori Bayne-Walker said of the talk. “To stay in front of them and be tough.”
The Seawolves came out of halftime and held the Black Bears to a mere 10 points in the second half, coming away with their first conference win of the season at Island Federal Credit Union Arena.
This game was the teams’ first meeting since the America East conference semifinals last season. There, Maine held Stony Brook scoreless in the final 6:46 of play to comeback and win the semifinal matchup 51-48.
“I think Maine is a really good team,” McCombs said. “Even though they’re very young, they’re very talented offensively. So with what we were able to do, I’m really proud of our team because we worked hard to defend them and hold them to 41 points.”
Bayne-Walker led all scorers for the game with 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting. She also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out three assists. It was her final assist of the day, however, that was the dagger of the game.
The game became chippy in the final six minutes of the fourth quarter, as the Black Bears began to mount a comeback, causing four turnovers, drawing four fouls and decreasing the double-digit led the Seawolves held.
Maine was down nine points with 1:23 left to go when Bayne-Walker found sophomore guard Jerell Matthews in the corner to knock down the triple. That basket gave Stony Brook a 12-point lead and seemed to take the wind out of Maine’s sails.
Both teams combined for 7-of-38 from the three-point line and 7-of-17 from the free throw line. However, both teams found greater success inside, with Stony Brook outscoring Maine 32-28 in the paint.
“We always have the game plan of attack, attack, attack,” Bayne-Walker said. “In the first half, we relied too much on the three-point line. So at halftime, we said we need to drive into the paint and attack the basket more.”
McCombs was proud of the way her team played defense after halftime.
“Well, we would love to hold teams to 10 points a half every game,” McCombs said laughing. “But we forced them to take tough twos, didn’t let them get hot from the three-point line and played good post defense. I thought our post players played very well as well. It was a big team effort.”
The team will have Sunday off before lacing up again at home against UMass Lowell on Monday at 2 p.m.. Bayne-Walker could possibly achieve school history, as she needs four more assists to become the Stony Brook Women’s Basketball record holder for career assists.
“It would be nice to break it,” Bayne-Walker said. “But winning is the most important thing, we just want to win.”