Montclair State’s women’s basketball team responded to their first loss of the season against The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) with a 75-58 win over Kean University on Wednesday. Junior forward Katie Sire lead the Red Hawks with 27 points and 16 rebounds and junior forward Yazmine Lacey scored a career-high 14 points.
The Red Hawks put their off shooting performance against TCNJ behind them and opened Wednesday’s game with a 21 point first quarter. Juniors Kate Tobie and Katie Sire looked to drive to the basket early and they combined to score 14 points. Tobie controlled the offense and threaded a pinpoint pass to junior forward Yazmine Lacey for an easy layup, while Sire battled through physical play throughout the quarter and converted a fastbreak layup through heavy contact.
The New Jersey Athletic Conference’s (NJAC) leading scorer Marajiah Bacon hit a buzzer-beating three for Kean, but the Red Hawks lead 21-13 after the first quarter. Montclair State held Bacon scoreless for the first eight minutes of the second quarter, but Bacon broke free and scored six unanswered points to end the half. Still, the Red Hawks lead 37-25 entering the second half.
Kean University Head Coach Mandy King expressed her frustration with the referees after De’Mean Bond was hit with a technical foul. Bond jumped up and clapped her hands, but didn’t appear to saying anything to the officials. Montclair State capitalized on the opportunity and jumped out to a 41-27 lead after the technical. In a quarter marred by fouls, the Red Hawks scored 13 out of their 21 third quarter points from the free throw line.
The women’s basketball team entered the fourth quarter with a 58-46 lead over Kean University. The Red Hawks expanded their lead and maintained control over the game, culminating in a block by Tobie that got the fans at Panzer off their feet. Freshman guard Cerys MacLelland kept the fans energized as they loudly cheered her when she used a series of dribble moves to bring the ball up the court. Montclair State eventually defeated Kean University, 75-58, and improved to 15-1.
No threes? No problem.
The women’s basketball team – the NJAC’s leader in made threes – hit their first three with just six minutes left in the game. They attempted as many threes as they usually make per game (7), but it didn’t matter. The Red Hawks focused on driving to the basket and it worked: they scored 44 of their 75 points in the paints and added another 22 points from the free throw line. It was one of the team’s best performances in terms of aggressively attacking the basket and it paid off.
Domination on the Boards
Montclair State recorded a season-high 54 rebounds on Wednesday. There were more than a few times where pure effort resulted in a rebound, and Lacey had a moment where she powered through a few Kean post defenders, grabbed an offensive rebound and received a pair of free throws. The Red Hawks’ domination on the boards was noticeable all night, and two of their best rebounding performances have come against Kean.
Shortening the Bench
The Red Hawks have been playing with what has essentially been an eight-man rotation since the new year started, with junior Taylor Harmon, freshman Alex McKinnon and Lacey earning the most time off the bench. MacLelland is the team’s only guard to come off the bench and play more than 10 minutes in the last five games. Sire has acted as the point guard when Tobie goes to the bench, and the Red Hawks have a few perimeter players capable of filling in as the primary ball handler.
Harmon, McKinnon and Lacey have all played well with increased minutes and, including Sage Bennett, Montclair State has started to establish a presence down in the post. While this in and of itself is an overall positive, it wouldn’t hurt if the Red Hawks received a bigger boost from their guards coming off the bench. Their guards off the bench have provided Montclair State with about 4.5 points per game in 16 games.
Montclair State will host Rutgers-Newark at Panzer Athletic Center on Jan. 21 at 3 p.m., which will also be Women’s Basketball Alumni Day. Then, the Red Hawks will go on the road to face Ramapo College on Jan. 25.