The Red Hawks defeated Stevens Institute of Technology 47-41 on Dec. 12 and improved to 8-1 for the season. Senior guard Kayla Ceballos contributed 20 points as Montclair State University won their fourth game in a row.
Ceballos scored on two consecutive layups early in the first quarter and ignited a quick 6-0 lead. However, despite the hot start, neither team could consistently make their shots.
The Red Hawks’ defense suffocated Stevens and held them to 14.3 percent shooting from the field in the opening half. For their part, Stevens held Montclair State to a below-average 28.6 percent from the field.
In a game where sophomore forward Katie Sire struggled offensively and the first half ended 18-14, it took an entire team effort to pull off a victory. Sophomore forward Taylor Harmon played a season-high 17 minutes off the bench and contributed a pair of blocks and three steals.
“[Harmon]’s been working really hard. She’s been developing,” said head coach Karin Harvey. “I thought [Harmon] played amazing today.”
In a crucial sequence in the third quarter, Harmon single-handedly thwarted a two-on-one fastbreak by blocking a layup. On the following offensive possession, Harmon ended up with the ball and dished it to Ceballos for a three. That five point swing along with rebounds down the stretch by junior guard Rachel Krauss were the types of plays that propelled Montclair State past Stevens in a close, competitive game.
“Today was such a good team win,” associate head coach Courtney Cunningham said. “[Krauss] came in and grabbed those two rebounds at the end. Katie Sire had a tough offensive game but had nine rebounds. [Harmon] came off the bench and played huge. I think that everyone is doing their part and filling their roles when we need them to.”
There were moments where the Red Hawks could have let the game slip away, but the team never lost composure. There were multiple over-the-shoulder passes that went nowhere near a Montclair State player, but their offense never collapsed. In a game where one or two sequences could have swung the game in the other direction, the Red Hawks remained calm and did what they needed in order to pull off the victory.
The women’s basketball will travel to Puerto Rico to participate in the San Juan Shootout to finish the year. Outside of being an opportunity for the players to travel, the tournament provides an opportunity to face tough competition and bond as a team.
“We love to hang out together and sometimes we don’t get to do it necessarily in a relaxed setting,” Harvey said. “We’re playing two games first and then we’ll have two and a half days where we’re just enjoying it. I think we have to remember that this is all about our experience and if we can’t have fun, then it’s not really worth it.”
The team will face Lebanon Valley College and nationally ranked University of Rochester on Dec. 28 and Dec. 29, respectively.