FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Chevannah Paalvast (Auckland, New Zealand/Massey) scored a game-high 19 points, but the Monmouth University women’s basketball team fell to Fairfield, 60-50, Tuesday night at Alumni Hall. With the loss, the Hawks fall to 6-18 (5-8 MAAC), while the Stags improve to 14-8 (9-4 MAAC).
Jasmine Walker (North Brunswick, N.J./North Brunswick) added 10 points for the Hawks, while Sara English (Smithtown, N.Y./Smithtown West [UMass]) chipped in with six points, a team-high eight rebounds and two blocks. Christina Mitchell (Baltimore, Md./MATHS) matched her season-high with seven rebounds, as did Kasey Chambers (Belmar, N.J./St. Rose) with a game-high six assists. Jenny Horvatinovic (Red Lion, Pa./Red Lion Area) also contributed five points and five rebounds.
Katie Cizynski matched Paalvast’s 19 points for the Stags on 8-of-16 shooting. Alexys Vazquez shot 5-of-14 from long range for 15 points, while Brittany Obi-Tabot scored nine points and grabbed a game-high nine rebounds, five on the offensive glass. Christelle Akon-Akech also chipped in with eight points and six rebounds.
“I’m really proud of the way our team battled today,” said Monmouth Head Coach Jenny Palmateer. “I think we made a couple of mistakes here or there at really critical times when we had it to six that let them go back to nine at the snap of a finger. It’s a tough one to lose because I thought we put ourselves in a position at a really tough place to play against a really good team on the road and had our shots. We just couldn’t pull it out. But I’m really proud of the team and what they’re able to do on the road in the MAAC against the number three team in the conference. Just really pleased with some of the things that we did. Lots to build on.”
Monmouth immediately jumped out to a 7-2 lead on a pair of Paalvast buckets in the paint and a Helena Kurt (Spanga, Sweden/Igelstavikens Gymnasium) three-pointer. The lead extended to 13-4 on a tough, driving lay-up by Walker at the 13:58 mark, provoking a Fairfield timeout. Immediately out of the timeout, Vazquez buried a three, sparking a 13-1 run to put the Stags on top, 17-14, at the 9:40 mark. Cizynski scored 12 of the Stags’ first 15 points and assisted on the next bucket by Akon-Akech.
The Hawks later tied the game at 19-19 on a Walker three-pointer from the right corner, but Fairfield ended the half on a 13-2 run to take a 32-21 lead into the break. Cizynski led all scorers with 14 points, while Obi-Tabot (8) and Vazquez (6) also contributed offensively for the Stags. Paalvast led the Hawks with eight first-half points, while Walker added six. Mitchell pulled down six first-half rebounds for Monmouth. The Stags took a 9-2 edge in turnovers in the first half, turning the advantage into an 11-1 discrepancy in points off turnovers.
A Paalvast three-point play and Horvatinovic jumper early in the second half cut the deficit to 37-31. But Fairfield gradually worked its advantage back up to 15 points, 50-35, on a Kristin Schatzlein three-pointer with 10:34 remaining in regulation. A 9-1 run capped by an English baby hook in the low post again cut the deficit to six points, 53-47, with 2:23 left to play. But Fairfield scored the next seven points, five from the free-throw line, to put the game away.
For the game, Monmouth outshot the Stags, 37.7 percent (20-53) to 35.6 percent (21-59) from the floor and 33.3 percent (4-12) to 27.3 percent (6-22) from long range. Fairfield took a 70.6 percent (12-17) to 66.7 percent (6-9) advantage from the free-throw line and a slim 39-38 edge on the glass. Fairfield forced 13 turnovers, while coughing it up just seven times in the game. The Stags enjoyed a 13-2 edge in points off turnovers for the game.
“We started the game so strong on both ends of the floor,” said Palmateer. “We were scoring and able to get into our press early on and I think that was a huge factor. We went through a bit of a scoring drought, changed the way we defended a little bit and went into halftime in a hole. I thought we did a great job coming back in the second half. But they hit some unbelievable threes. They banked a shot in from the hash mark. Just unbelievable threes. And really, in my mind, those threes are the difference in this game. Everything else is about even. But those threes came at crucial times when we were making runs.”
The Hawks return to action Friday, when they play host to Quinnipiac. Opening tip on Play 4Kay Night from the Multipurpose Activity Center is slated for 7 p.m.