The Montclair State women’s basketball team and Rowan University faced off on Saturday in a rematch of last season’s New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) championship, and the Red Hawks defeated the Profs on the road, 67-57, and improved to 9-0 in the 2016-17 season.
Montclair State jumped out to an 11-0 lead in the opening moments of the first quarter. The Red Hawks played their brand of basketball – lockdown team defense and efficient halfcourt offense – and made Rowan look uncomfortable on their home court. The women’s basketball team continued their strong play through the second quarter and took a 34-26 lead at the end of the first half.
Despite playing with poise and controlling the first half, the Red Hawks committed seven turnovers and surrendered 21 points in the third quarter. Rowan lead 47-46 heading into the fourth quarter, but they couldn’t hold onto their lead. Montclair State mimicked their first half performance, outscored Rowan 21-10 in the fourth quarter and emerged with their ninth consecutive victory of the season.
Junior forward Katie Sire lead all players with 20 points and senior guard Zoe Curtis contributed 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Rowan University came into Saturday’s game as the NJAC’s scoring leader – averaging over 80 points per game – but Montclair State held Rowan to their lowest scoring total of the 2016-17 season. Outside of surrendering 21 points in the third quarter, Montclair State was able to slow the game down, dictate the pace and completely prevent Rowan from playing their style of basketball.
There’s no question about it: the Red Hawks are an elite defensive team.
Marksmanship from Beyond the Arc
Montclair State went 8-16 from the three-point line and, for the first time in the 2016-17 season, they shot better than 40 percent from beyond the arc. It wasn’t just that the women’s basketball team was able to hit threes on Saturday, but it was when they hit their threes. At moments when it felt like Rowan was gaining momentum, it seemed like the Red Hawks always responded with a crucial three. Three-point shooting will continue to be an asset for Montclair State down the road, and it’s encouraging to see they have been getting high-quality looks from beyond the arc in all of their first nine games.
Harvey Goes with Lacey and McKinnon Down the Stretch
Red Hawks Head Coach Karin Harvey opted to play junior forward Yazmine Lacey or freshman forward Alex McKinnon to close out Saturday’s game (senior forward Sage Bennett didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter). It worked – Montclair State trailed for only 47 seconds in the fourth quarter – and Harvey’s move illustrates the confidence she has in Lacey and McKinnon.
Last year would have been a different story. However, Lacey has improved and her play warrants an expanded role, and McKinnon continues to impress as a freshman.
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers
The Red Hawks tied a season-high with 24 turnovers against Rowan on Saturday. Montclair State’s turnovers allowed Rowan to get back into the game and get out in transition, especially in the third quarter. Turnovers haven’t been a consistent problem for the women’s basketball team, but it has allowed teams to stay in games longer than they should.
The women’s basketball team will get to celebrate the holiday season a little early as they’ll head out to Las Vegas for two games in the “Las Vegas Hoopla” on Dec. 20 and 21. After that, the Red Hawks will be back home against SUNY Cortland on Jan. 2.