MONMOUTH — After a low-scoring first half, Oak Hill’s quiet star jolted its offense back into motion in the second half.

Desirae Dumais was everywhere down the stretch for the Raiders in a 50-42 win over Monmouth on Saturday. 

Oak Hill (9-3) trailed 15-14 at halftime, and while Dumais had five points, the Raiders needed more. Dumais is a team-first player, but she’s also quietly one of the top scorers in the Mountain Valley Conference and in the second half on the road Saturday, she showed why. 

“We always want to lean on her, but Desirae is such an unselfish player that she really wants her teammates to be involved and sometimes we tell her that she should take over more and be more assertive,” Oak Hill coach Mike Labonte said. “It’s not really her nature, but she does a great job and she’s one of the top players in our league. She certainly makes us go.”

The Oak Hill senior started the Raiders’ scoring in the third quarter with a pair of drives to the hoop to keep them within one point of Monmouth at 19-18.

Monmouth’s two athletic bigs, Libby Clement and Katie Harris, made the Raiders a bit hesitant to drive to the hoop in the first two quarters.

Labonte wasn’t pleased with his squad’s offensive mindset, so at halftime he suggested some changes. 

“They have some kids that are long and athletic, and they intimidated us,” Labonte said. “We kind of were hurrying our shots rather than taking our time. We took our time on our finishes and we slowed it down in the second half. That was a big part of it.”

Dumais scored 16 second-half points from all over the court to finish with 21. She also had 11 rebounds and three steals. The Raiders’ erratic first half was calmed and productive when the offense started running more through Dumais in the third.

“I felt like I had to take control and be a leader on the court for all the younger players,” Dumais said.

Oak Hill also adjusted its defensive game plan at halftime.

“I think we had to get in front of them more,” Dumais said. “We were playing behind them, and they are taller than us so they were able to shoot over us. Getting in front of them on defense helped us out.”

Monmouth’s Emma Johnson scored 10 points in the first half and finished the game with 15. Point guard Audrey Fletcher, who was playing through a hand injury, scored five points in the third to keep Monmouth within six points of Oak Hill, which led 33-27 at the end of the quarter.

Monmouth (9-3) coach Katie McAllister was disappointed in the Mustangs’ post play play. 

“We couldn’t put the ball in the basket,” McAllister said. “Our shooting percentage was poor. They killed us on the boards and they had a lot of second-chance points, and I think that’s where they were kind of staying with us. We were more athletic and had better basketball knowledge but the execution lacked tonight.”

Clement scored seven of her 10 points in the final quarter as the Mustangs fought to stay with the Raiders. Clement made it a three-point game, 40-37, with 1:40 left, but Oak Hill made free throws down the stretch and got three late baskets from sophomore Briana Dumais to seal the victory.

McAllister said the Mustangs are better than they played Saturday, and they have a few things to spruce up before next month’s Class C South playoffs.

“We have to rein things in,” McAllister said. “We have to make the smart pass instead of trick things that look good on highlight tapes. It comes down to knowing what we do, doing what we do and we will come out on top. I believe in our girls.”

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