Sophomore forward India Pagan shoots a basket. Pagan has played in 61 minutes and scored 32 points, through the team’s first three games. PHOTO COURTESY OF STONY BROOK ATHLETICS

Sophomore forward India Pagan has taken a leap forward in the beginning of her second season as a Seawolf. The 6-foot-1-inch player, who started half of the team’s games last year, averaged just under 18 minutes a game and scored 5.9 per game as she got her first taste of college basketball.

Pagan is now taking full control of her spot in the lineup. She has played in 61 minutes and scored 32 points, through the team’s first three games, a significant improvement showing that she is capable of playing consistently among the other starters. Her time spent in Puerto Rico over the summer has played a huge factor in her progression, according to the forward.

“I played at U-18 and U-20, but last year I made the actual national team,” Pagan said. “Just being able to play with the adults, 30-year-olds, they have experience. They taught me an unbelievable amount of new things. Then playing in Colombia, playing against older players, experienced players, that just helped me develop more as a player.”

One part of Pagan’s improved game is her efficiency with her shots after shooting a .55 percent clip last season. Pagan is shooting 58 percent from the field in the first three games, the third most efficient on the team. She has also shown an ability to earn more free throws, averaging three in the early goings, up from the 1.3 she averaged last year. According to Pagan, it all comes down to confidence.

“Making the national team boosted my confidence,” Pagan said. “I’m taking more shots, more confident in my shot. Confidence in my teammates, just trusting them.”

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That change has also caught the attention of head coach Caroline McCombs.

“With India [Pagan], just having an opportunity to play with her Puerto Rican national team this summer, she really grew as a person,” McCombs said. “She’s such a dominant scorer, but she’s such an unselfish person that she’d rather pass the ball than score the ball.”

Pagan agreed with McCombs’ assessment.

“That’s honestly always been my game,” Pagan said. “Ever since middle school, I always looked to pass first. Coach always says I have good hands, good passes, it’s just part of my game.”

The Seawolves will need a rising player like Pagan to step up at the forward position. Senior forward Cheyenne Clark is out indefinitely, removing the only forward on the roster that started every game for the Seawolves last season. Pagan is tied for the second most starts with sophomore forward McKenzie Bushee, but Bushee has only played 23 minutes this season.

“We want to defend, rebound, run and play together,” McCombs said. “And so whoever that is, I think that’s something that we’re still trying to put together at this early stage in the game. We have some players that have been on the team but haven’t played as much in the past so they’re still figuring that out, as I am too.”

Pagan explained McCombs’ point further, emphasizing the trust that she’s developed for her teammates.

“Many teams lost a bit of their post,” Pagan said. “And this year we have two more posts that were injured last year, so now they’re back and healthier. Now we have a four post rotation, so that’s going to be good on our part. Just keep rotating posts, nobody’s going to be able to beat our post.”

With the experience she’s gained over the summer, Pagan is ready to prove she can lead her team to a championship.

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