Rutgers University-Camden knew they had an uphill battle in their New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) first-round matchup with the Montclair State University women’s basketball team, who finished the regular season undefeated in conference play.
Any hopes for a miracle were quickly shut down by the Red Hawks as they cruised to a 101-37 victory over the Scarlet Raptors in a historic offensive performance. The team’s 101-point game is the most they have ever scored in NJAC tournament history.
Junior guard Trishia Peterson spoke about the team’s big accomplishment.
“It’s definitely exciting for us,” Peterson said. “It’s [awesome] to be the team to hit the century mark.”
The Red Hawks seemed like they could not miss all night, and it started in the opening minutes. Peterson hit two three-pointers to help give Montclair State an early 12-4 lead midway through the first.
Rutgers-Camden threw a zone defense at the Red Hawks early in the game but Montclair State continued to rain points on them. Rutgers-Camden only played their starting five throughout the game and the Red Hawks took advantage of this, pushing the pace whenever they could to wear them out. They finished the quarter with a 24-7 lead, shooting 9-17 from the field.
Montclair State head coach Karin Harvey discussed how their success on the offensive end has translated from practice.
“During practice, we’ve been working on taking the shots that we are supposed to within our offense,” Harvey said. “I thought they executed really well and shared the ball around.”
Things would only get worse for Rutgers-Camden as they seemed to be overwhelmed by Montclair State’s defensive pressure and high energy throughout the game. In the second quarter, they only managed six points.
The Red Hawks lead ballooned to 34-7 as senior guard Taylor Brown knocked down a three-pointer. Their cushion grew to 44-13 at the end of the quarter as Harvey began to sub more of her rotation players in the game.
Junior guard Julia Sutton put the nail in the coffin for Rutgers-Camden during the third quarter. In the span of just six minutes, Sutton nailed five consecutive three-pointers, with the last one sending the Red Hawk sideline into a frenzy of cheering as their lead grew to 71-17 late in the third quarter. She finished as the leading scorer for the Red Hawks with 22 points.
Sutton’s improvement from the three-point line has been remarkable this season, averaging 40% from downtown, which is up by 10%.
“I’ve been working on my three-point shot a lot in practice along with other shooting [drills],” Sutton said. “My teammates really helped me get in rhythm.”
By the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Red Hawks had most if not all of their bench players in the game.
“Sometimes you don’t get to play everyone in the postseason,” Harvey said. “We got to play all of our players who dedicated so much time and effort to the team. Everyone scored but one player. All the players grabbed at least one rebound so everyone got on the [box score].”
It was a bench player who helped the Red Hawks hit the century mark. Freshman forward Keleysha Petit-Frere converted a layup to make it a 101-37 lead.
Montclair State will face off against Kean University in the NJAC semifinals at Panzer Athletic Center this Friday at 5 p.m.
“The preparation will be the same, we know Kean very well,” Harvey said. “We will work on running some different things on offense and discuss defending their ball screens, but I don’t think anything is going to change, what we’ve done has gotten us to this point.”