Montclair State earned their third consecutive victory in their New Jersey Athletic Conference opener against The College of New Jersey.
Senior guard Kayla Ceballos lead the team with 18 points in the Red Hawks’ 66-48 victory on Nov. 21.
In last season’s NJAC tournament, the women’s basketball team defeated TCNJ in a close game and, despite entering the game 0-3, the Lions kept Montclair State in check for most of the first half. Neither team was able to jump out to a lead, as both traded baskets for most of the first quarter. The Red Hawks finished the quarter tied 14-14. However, they shot 31 percent from the field on 6/19 shooting and struggled to find consistency on offense.
The Lions unleashed a three-point barrage on Montclair State in the second quarter. TCNJ was able to nail three consecutive three-pointers in the span of 1:30 and jumped out to a 26-17 lead. The Red Hawks were held scoreless for over five minutes and faced a 31-20 deficit by the time they scored their next basket.
Montclair State junior guard Rachel Krauss tallied three three-pointers in the second quarter, including one at the buzzer, but it wasn’t enough to give the Red Hawks the lead. Montclair State trailed 36-29 following a hot shooting quarter for the Lions.
Even though the Red Hawks were down by seven and could not find consistent offense in the first half, they remedied those problems through sharp defense and solid three-point shooting in the second. Montclair State forced TCNJ to commit four turnovers and held the Lions without a basket for over six minutes during the third quarter. On the offensive end, Ceballos contributed eight points as the Red Hawks took a 46-41 lead going into the game’s final quarter.
The team continued their high level of play from the third quarter and shut down TCNJ for the remainder of the game. The Red Hawks outscored the Lions 37-12 and held them to 17.2 percent from the field in the second half.
“I think we started playing defense,” said assistant coach Courtney Cunningham. “We did [defense and rebounding] much better in the second half.”
Montclair State defeated TCNJ 66-48 in their first NJAC game of the season. They’re next game is at home against Kean University on Nov. 24.