Graduate guard Kaela Hilaire in a game against Manhattan College on Nov. 8. Hilaire scored 17 points, four rebounds and five assists in a game against Sacred Heart on Nov. 24. SARA RUBERG/THE STATESMAN

After a strong win against Iona, the Stony Brook Women’s Basketball looked to keep the momentum going heading into their home game against the Sacred Heart University Pioneers on Sunday, Nov. 24. 

Big time performances from graduate guard Kaela Hilaire, junior guard/forward Jonae Cox and junior forward India Pagan helped the Seawolves earn a 54-50 victory, improving to 5-1. 

“Great opponent in Sacred Heart,” Stony Brook head coach Caroline McCombs said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “They do a great job on offense and defense. I thought it was a great matchup for both teams… I think our offense is still emerging. So we’re just going to continue to hang our hat on our defense.”

Both teams were unable to get much going during the first half of the game, with the Pioneers up 20-18 after two quarters of play.

The highest scoring Seawolf at the half, Pagan, had only mustered six points, which accounted for one third of the teams total points at the time.

“We have to grind it out,” Pagan said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “It was a little ugly in the beginning but we played together, and pride ourself on our defense and came out with a win.”

Pagan finished the night with nine points and 11 rebounds, missing a double-double by just one point.

While Pagan was pulling in rebound after rebound, Hilaire was slicing through the Pioneer defense, scoring buckets and drawing fouls left and right. Hilaire, who finished with 17 points, four rebounds and five assists, living at the line after drawing 10 fouls from the opposing team and scoring seven points via free-throw.

“When the score is so low, it comes down to defense from both teams,” Hilaire said in a postgame interview with The Statesman. “Both teams obviously aren’t getting easy baskets. So it comes down to who wants it more and who is a better defending team.”

As both teams were playing tough defense, the referees were blowing their whistles almost non-stop. Between the two teams, a total 48 fouls were called, which eventually came back to haunt the Pioneers.

Three Pioneers fouled out during the fourth quarter, including their leading season scorer, junior guard Adrianne Hagood, and third leading scorer, redshirt-junior guard Nikki Johnson. 

The stingy Pioneer defense caused the Seawolves to go nearly six minutes during the fourth quarter, without making a shot. Stony Brook managed to hit some free throws during that time, while buckets were needed, they did not come.

Stony Brook Marching Band lent the women’s basketball team a hand midway through the fourth quarter. The band normally messes with opponents, and this time got the best of them. Junior guard/forward Olivia Dabney was dribbling the ball as the band shouted an incorrect shot-clock time, forcing Dabney to chuck up a three-pointer that she air balled and fell out of bounds.

During the fourth quarter, Cox chipped in seven points, which proved to be crucial for the Seawolves. 

“Our energy [was] on defense, we weren’t playing well on offense,” Cox said in regards to her fourth quarter outburst. “We just turned it up.”

Possibly the play of the game occurred with 0:04 seconds left in the game. Hilaire was at the foul line attempting the second free throw, and McCombs had pushed the four other Seawolves to the other end of the court, for defensive purposes. Hilaire missed the free throw, and by sheer luck, managed to grab the rebound, beating out four Pioneer players. She managed to burn two seconds off the game, icing the game, and giving Stony Brook the win.

The Seawolves play one final game before Thanksgiving break, heading to Brooklyn to take on the Long Island University Sharks on Wednesday, Nov. 27, with tipoff set for 1 p.m.

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