The Red Hawks opened their season with two consecutive victories against Ithaca College and Vassar College. Sophomore forward Katie Sire led Montclair State with 36 points and 28 rebounds over the course of the two games.
The match on Nov. 15 featured two NCAA DIII tournament teams from last year and was the first game of the season for each team. However, both teams started the first half playing sloppy basketball. The Red Hawks missed their first three shots, including two layups, and the Bombers also missed their first three attempts. However, the women remedied their mistakes by playing strong defense, which helped them jump to a 16-3 lead in the first quarter.
Despite getting out to a quick start, the team struggled to find consistency in the second quarter. The women quickly earned four fouls and missed their first four from the field. The majority of their fouls were loose ball fouls, which gave Ithaca College easy points in the second quarter.
“[Ithaca] scored 12 consecutive points from the free throw line in the second quarter,” said Karin Harvey, Montclair State head coach. “The thing is, when we put them on the free throw line, we can’t rebound and we can’t run. It kills our whole game.”
In addition to their foul trouble, the Red Hawks’ defense did not hold steady. Montclair State gave up 28 points in the second quarter and went into halftime trailing 31-30.
The women’s basketball team came out with more discipline in the third quarter and got back on track on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor. Senior guard Kayla Ceballos sparked the Red Hawks with 13 third-quarter points, including three shots from the three-point line. Montclair State held the Bombers scoreless for 5:35 and the team had jumped out to a 55-41 lead by the time Ithaca College scored their next basket.
Ceballos helped the Red Hawks put the game away with two three-pointers in the fourth quarter. Ceballos drained a three point shot in transition to give them a commanding 74-54 lead with four minutes remaining. Sire put up 19 points and 17 rebounds for the Red Hawks. Additionally, the team held Ithaca College to a low field goal percentage of 29 percent from the field for the game.
On Nov. 16, Montclair State was back in action with another non-conference game as they traveled to Poughkeepsie, N.Y. to face off against Vassar College. The team picked up from where they left off from the previous game and cruised to a 67-40 victory.
Though the Red Hawks missed their first six shots from the field, Sire knocked in a jumper to give the team its first points 3:25 into the game. Sire’s jumper initiated a 14-2 run to end the first quarter.
Montclair State’s defense forced six turnovers and remained strong in the first quarter, but their offense lagged behind. After Kate Tobie made a layup early in the second quarter, the Red Hawks went over three minutes without scoring a basket. Although the team went 28.6 percent from the field, they held Vassar College to an even lower 16 percent on 4-25 shooting.
Sire had nine points and eight rebounds in the first half and helped the team to a 27-12 lead at halftime. The Red Hawks opened the second half much better on offense, making their first two out of three shots. Additionally, they went on a 22-7 to end the third quarter.
With the team up 28 and the game out of reach, Harvey pulled most of her starters with five minutes left in the game. The Red Hawks shot 51.4 percent from the floor in the second half and pulled away with a 67-40 victory. Harvey went deep into her bench and played 13 players. In return, Montclair State’s bench outscored their opponent’s bench 23-5. Sire leads all players on the team in points and rebounds to start the season.
The women’s basketball team returns to action in a conference game against The College of New Jersey on Nov. 21. The Red Hawks will play their second consecutive NJAC game against Kean University on Nov. 24.