WOMEN'S BASKETBALL COMES FROM BEHIND TO STUN FAIRFIELD
WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J. – Chevannah Paalvast (Auckland, New Zealand/Massey) scored a season-high 23 points and Sara English (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown West [UMass]) added six points to along with a game-high 10 rebounds and a team-high four assists as the Monmouth University women’s basketball team overcame a 14-point second-half deficit to defeat Fairfield, 62-57, in overtime Friday night at the Multipurpose Activity Center. With the win, the Hawks improve to 2-12 (1-2 MAAC), while the Stags fall to 7-5 (2-1 MAAC). The win represents the program’s first-ever Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference victory.
Jasmine Walker (North Brunswick, N.J./North Brunswick) added nine points and a career-high nine rebounds, while knocking down a pivotal three-pointer in overtime to break a 55-55 tie and give Monmouth a lead it would not relinquish. Jamiyah Bethune (Union, N.J./Union [Penn State]) added eight points, tying the game with 22 seconds left in regulation to send it to overtime, before hitting a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left in the extra session to clinch the Monmouth victory. Helena Kurt (Spanga, Sweden) added six points, including a key three-pointer inside the final minute of regulation to tie the game, to go along with a game-high three steals. Jenny Horvatinovic (Red Lion, Pa./Red Lion Area) also chipped in with six points.
Kristin Schatzlein led Fairfield with 16 points and six rebounds, while Katie Cizynski had 14 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Brittany Obi-Tabot matched Cizynski with nine boards, while also scoring eight points. Alexis Vazquez scored nine points before fouling out, while Felicia DaCruz dished out a game-high five assists for the Stags.
“We’ve been going to our presses here and there in a lot of games, and it always seems to work most when we need it most,” said Monmouth Head Coach Jenny Palmateer. “There was a point where we were 14 down and we just decided we had to get after it. We put our trapping line-up in and they definitely didn’t disappoint. They’ve been bringing us back in games lately with the pressure that they’re able to put on in our traps and I give a lot of credit to Chevy (Paalvast) and Jas (Walker), always kind of the catalysts on that. JB (Jamiyah Bethune) is a great trapper for us and brings a lot of energy in those situations and those guys really cause a lot of havoc. They forced a few turnovers in some key moments and before you knew it, we were back in that game.”
After Fairfield scored the game’s first five points, Monmouth stormed back with 11 of the next 15 points to take an 11-9 advantage on Kurt’s jumper at the 14:37 mark. Walker scored four points in the Monmouth run. Following four lead changes, Monmouth took its largest lead of the half, 20-15, with a 6-0 run. English, Paalvast and Horvatinovic each made a bucket in the stretch. However, Fairfield immediately responded with a 7-0 run to retake the lead. After Paalvast made a lay-up at the 3:54 mark to tie the game at 22-22, Fairfield went on a 6-0 run and took a 30-26 lead into the halftime break.
Paalvast led the Hawks with seven points at the break, while Schatzlein led the Stags with 11 points. Both teams shot 37.5 percent (12-32) in the first half. Fairfield connected on 4-of-11 three-point attempts, while the Hawks made 1-of-2. The Stags made both of their free-throw attempts, while Monmouth was 1-of-2. The Hawks turned the ball over just three times, while Fairfield also took care of the ball to the tune of four turnovers.
Fairfield started strong in the second half with 10-straight points to take a 40-26 lead on Obi-Tabot’s lay-up at the 16:42 mark, before Paalvast put an end to the run with a runner and a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 40-31. The Hawks drew even closer, 40-33, on a long Kasey Chambers (Belmar, N.J./St. Rose) jumper with her toe on the tip of the three-point arc at the 13:39 mark and made it a 9-0 run on Paalvast’s lay-up while being fouled at the 12:21 mark. Horvatinovic extended the run to 11-0 with an 18-foot wing jumper off a Chambers feed to cut the deficit to three, before Cizynski ended the run with a bucket in the paint.
Trailing by 10 with under five minutes left to play, Paalvast converted consecutive buckets to cut the deficit to six prior to the four-minute mark, before Bethune’s jumper with the shot clock winding down at the 3:30 mark cut the Stags’ lead to four, 49-45. Paalvast scored off an inbounds play from Bethune to cut it to two inside the three-minute mark. Cizynski slipped inside past the Hawks’ defense to again make it a two-possession game, before Paalvast made a free throw at the 1:23 mark to cut it back down to three. After Christina Mitchell (Baltimore, Md./MATHS) took a charge, Kurt nailed a straightaway three to tie the game at 51-51 with 58 seconds left in the second half.
Kurt was then whistled for a touch foul, sending DaCruz to the line for 1-and-1 with 41.8 seconds left. The Stags’ point guard made both free throws to give Fairfield a 53-51 lead. Bethune drove all the way to the bucket and converted the lay-up with 22 seconds left to again tie the game at 53-53. The Hawks got the defensive stop, before Bethune’s running three-pointer rimmed out to send the game to overtime.
Paalvast knocked down a 12-foot jumper to give Monmouth a 55-53 lead to open the overtime period, before Cizynski countered with a high-arcing jumper to tie the game with just over three minutes left in the period. Walker immediately responded with a three-pointer on the Hawks’ next possession to give Monmouth a 58-55 cushion.
Schatzlein made a contested lay-up with 59 seconds left to cut the Hawks’ lead to one, 58-57, with 59 seconds left. With the shot clock running down, Walker penetrated to the bucket and laid it in to push the Hawks’ advantage to 60-57 with 30 seconds left. Following a missed Schatzlein wing three, the Hawks forced a tie-up on the rebound, taking advantage of the possession arrow. Bethune was then fouled with 10 seconds left and knocked down a pair of free throws to give Monmouth the 62-57 victory.
For the game, Monmouth outshot Fairfield, 40.9 percent (27-66) to 33.3 percent (22-66), from the floor and outrebounded the Stags, 44-41. In spite of the extra five-minute overtime, Monmouth committed a season-low nine turnovers and outscored Fairfield, 18-8, in points off turnovers. The Monmouth bench also outscored the Stags’ reserves, 18-6. Fairfield took a 31.8 percent (7-22) to 25.0 percent (4-16) edge from long range and an 85.7 percent (6-7) to 44.4 percent (4-9) advantage from the free-throw line.
The Hawks return to MAAC action Sunday, when they play host to intrastate foe Rider. Opening tip from the Multipurpose Activity Center is scheduled for 2 p.m.