Stony Brook Women’s Basketball hosted the Division III New Paltz Hawks on Wednesday, Nov. 28, three days after defeating Big Ten Conference foe Penn State. Despite facing a more amateur opponent, head coach Caroline McCombs was determined to see the Seawolves withhold the same mindset.
“We don’t prepare for any game any differently,” McCombs said. “It doesn’t really matter who the opponent is, it is always about us.”
Stony Brook responded by delivering an offensive onslaught with an 87-50 victory over New Paltz. The Seawolves successfully focused their attacking strategy on commanding the paint. The team earned 46 points inside and looked to their forwards for scoring, something McCombs has been interested in integrating this season.
“We love it,” McCombs said. “The more you can put the ball in the basket, the better your team is going to be. I thought we were very efficient. [Forwards sophomore India Pagan and junior Oksana Gouchie-Provencher] were both very efficient from the field today so we love those high percentages.”
Pagan overpowered New Paltz defenders by domineering her way to 10 quick points inside the paint in the first half. Pagan led the team with a career-high 18 points along with eight rebounds.
“It feels great, but I have to give all the credit to my teammates,” Pagan said. “They pass me the ball and have the confidence in me to go up strong and make my layups. That is the role I wanted on this team 一 being that go-to post player that they can trust anytime they pass it in and know I am going to get a bucket.”
Gouchie-Provencher also shined on the court and boosted up the Seawolves in the first two quarters. She connected on all five of her shots in the first half, including two three-pointers. She finished with a career-high 14 points and five rebounds.
“I am just so thankful for my teammates being able to find me,” Gouchie-Provencher said. “ I was able to knock those shots down after working so hard in the offseason. Being able to knock down those shots is great.”
Gouchie-Provencher and Pagan started off the game by scoring the first 11 points for Stony Brook. Senior guards Jerell Matthews and Shania ‘Shorty’ Johnson combined for three three-point shots to put the Seawolves up midway through the first at 25-11. Junior forward Kina Smith’s last-second layup handed the team an 18 point advantage closing out the first quarter.
Stony Brook continued to dictate the tempo of the game on both sides of the court in the second quarter. The Seawolves outscored the Hawks 23-7 and earned six more rebounds. Johnson capped off the quarter by converting a buzzer beater three-point shot from slightly in front of the midcourt logo, giving them a 54-20 lead at halftime.
Johnson, who tallied 10 points and 10 assists in the first half, finished with 17 points and set both a new team and America East record with 15 assists. She currently leads the NCAA with 59 assists. While Johnson has made setting records look easy, the America East Player of the Week’s sole objective remains
“I just go in there and play every day,” Johnson said. “Like any game, I just wanted to get my team involved. None of us can do it alone, so when we share the ball good things happen.”
Pagan, Gouchie-Provencher, Matthews and Johnson each scored over 13 points in the victory. Nine different players recorded a point for the fourth time this season.
“We have more than two people that can score,” Johnson said. “We got everybody on the bench that can score and this whole starting five can put baskets on the board. It feels really good to have a team that sticks together.”
Stony Brook will look to extend its winning streak to six games when they host the Cornell Big Red on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 1 p.m. The Seawolves will be looking for retribution after their 48-40 loss to the Big Red which snapped a five-game win streak exactly one year ago.
Gouchie-Provencher believes the team will need to control the tempo in order to earn the victory.
“Honestly, we need to play Stony Brook basketball,” Gouchie-Provencher said. “We did lose to them last year so we do have that fire under us. We are excited to play them.”