Graduate forward India Pagan in the game against Washington State on Dec. 19. Pagan scored 21 points against Binghamton on Jan. 19, a season-high for her. KAT PROCACCI/THE STATESMAN

Graduate forward India Pagan scored a season-high 21 points as the Stony Brook women’s basketball team crushed the Binghamton Bearcats, 69-44, on Wednesday, Jan. 19 for its fifth consecutive victory. 

The Seawolves (14-2, 5-1 AE) now sit atop the America East standings, sending the Bearcats (4-8, 0-2 AE) to their fourth straight loss as well.

Pagan went a stellar 9-for-15 from within the arc, finishing with 18 points in the paint. Perhaps feeding off of Pagan’s energy, the Seawolves as a team dominated the paint 46-22 while also winning the glass 49-41 over Binghamton.

“[Pagan] works really hard,” head coach Ashley Langford said in a postgame press conference. “She’s done a great job, and I really think it’s been nice to have other offensive threats on the court. Everybody on the court can score. So it’s been a little bit easier on her this year because she’s seeing less doubles.”

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A few of those other offensive threats included junior guard Gigi Gonzalez, as well as senior guards Earlette Scott and Annie Warren. Gonzalez and Scott combined for 11 assists and 14 rebounds. Warren trailed only behind Pagan with 12 points, making it her fourth game in a row to score in double digits.

“We have so many weapons, so I’m not getting doubled as much as I did over the past couple of years,” Pagan said. “I’m moving more freely. I’m attacking the basket more, and I’m just having an attack mentality.”

The Seawolves returned home to face Binghamton coming off a road victory over New Hampshire, where they struggled early with turnovers before jumping ahead and eventually defeating the Wildcats. In Wednesday’s matchup, Stony Brook had a much greater focus on sharpening their plan of attack from the get-go.

“I look at ‘focus’ more on the defensive end,” Langford said. “I think, offensively, you can’t control that all the time. Sometimes you make shots, sometimes you don’t make shots. But we came out focused on making points in the first quarter, which is good.”

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Despite only scoring 11 points by the end of the first quarter, Stony Brook managed to hold Binghamton to just eight points. Unlike their first quarter against New Hampshire on Sunday, the Seawolves were clearly focused on limiting turnovers and tightening their defense against the Bearcats.

From the second quarter on, Stony Brook’s offense was all business. The Seawolves went from shooting just under 30% from the field in the first to shooting 50%. Stony Brook also grabbed 14 rebounds in the quarter, 11 of which were on the defensive end. Going into halftime, the Seawolves held a 29-15 lead over Binghamton. The score would remain in the Seawolves’ favor until the final buzzer.

The play of the game came with about 3:40 left in the third quarter, when Scott increased her team’s lead by 16 points with a fast break layup. Bearcats junior guard Cassidy Roberts, guarded by Gonzalez, attempted to find one of her teammates at the top of the key. The only problem with her plan was that Scott was waiting right there. Scott stole the pass, dashed down court, pulled a behind-the-back maneuver against Binghamton junior guard Denai Bowman and finished the layup. 

“I was just trying to get my team energy,” Scott said. “I obviously couldn’t give them that energy and that spark that I usually get in the first half due to foul trouble, so I was just trying to do anything to get my team some energy to rally them up.”

Scott ended the game with six points and eight rebounds.

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The win against Binghamton displays just how dangerous the Seawolves are when their defense performs to its fullest potential, while also highlighting the versatility of Stony Brook’s offense. Against a team that is first in the nation when it comes to three-point field goal percentage defense, the Seawolves were able to shift their offensive momentum to the paint in an impressive way.

“I was really pleased with how we played today,” Langford said. “We’ve focused a lot this past week on defense and being disciplined. We held them for three quarters under 10 points, so I’m really happy with our defensive effort. I also thought we did a good job on offense, sharing the basketball, and got back into double digit assists. So overall, I thought this was a good quality win for us, and we got better today.”

Although first place feels pretty comfortable right now, the Seawolves have their work cut out for them as they prepare to take on the UAlbany Great Danes (11-5, 4-1 AE) on Saturday, Jan. 22, in a battle of the top two teams in the conference standings.

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