The Red Hawks returned to Panzer Athletic Center for their first home game of 2016, but they ultimately suffered a disappointing 68-64 loss against Rowan University on Jan. 6.
With the loss, Montclair State has now dropped three out of their last four games since senior Kayla Ceballos went down with a season-ending ACL injury in their game against Lebanon Valley College on Dec. 28.
Despite Ceballos’ position as the team’s leading scorer at the time, offense was not the issue in their game against Rowan University. Their defense was simply not good enough to pull them through the game, even though sophomores Katie Sire and Sage Bennett took control on offense and scored 22 and 18 points respectively. Too often, Rowan University would throw a full-court pass following a defensive rebound and the Red Hawks were caught sleeping, leading to easy transition baskets.
“The most disappointing part is our defense has been a consistent factor for us all year,” Assistant Coach Melissa Tobie said after the game, “and that’s what we were missing today. Rowan played well and we couldn’t stop them on the defensive end.”
The Red Hawks maintained control throughout most of the game – even jumping out to an 11 point lead in the second quarter – despite their poor defensive effort. Bennett and Sire were able get whatever they wanted on the offensive end as they scored 25 of the team’s 35 first-half points.
The game started to turn when Rowan University went on a quick 11-0 run in the third quarter, giving the Profs a 43-37 lead. The Red Hawks wrestled back control of the game and took a 49-47 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter was a back-and-forth contest, as neither team got out to a substantial lead. However, Rowan University shut Montclair State down in the final three minutes. The Profs forced two turnovers and held the Red Hawks scoreless in the waning moments of the game. Ultimately, Rowan University defeated Montclair State 68-64 and remained undefeated in New Jersey Athletic Conference play.
The Red Hawks will now drop to second in the NJAC standings due to their most recent defeat. The team has a chance to reassert itself in the conference as their remaining 12 games are all against NJAC opponents.
Montclair State will be back in action in an away game against Rutgers-Camden on Jan. 9.