The Montclair State University women’s basketball team took the second spot on the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) standings table as they beat The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) 52-38 this Saturday in Ewing, New Jersey. The team also extended their game winning streak to 11, and are now (11-2) in the NJAC and (16-4) overall.
This meeting with the Lions was a rematch from earlier this season when TCNJ beat the Red Hawks in overtime, 64-62. Senior forward Alex McKinnon opened the scoreboard for the Red Hawks by scoring the first five points of the game. McKinnon collected 12 points by the end of the game. Montclair State extended that lead to 12, thanks to a three-pointer scored by freshman guard Nickie Carter.
The Lions managed to lessen the score difference to one by the end of the first quarter, but the Red Hawks remained in the lead for the rest of the game.
Montclair State dominated the second half, outscoring TCNJ 13-4. Back to back threes from Carter and junior guard Taylor Brown saw the first six points of the quarter. The Lions had a six-minute dry spell without any field goals made. Finally, with three minutes left before the end of the quarter, sophomore forward Shannon Devitt scored for the Lions to cut the Red Hawks lead to 23-15. This was also Devitt’s 1,000 point for TCNJ. With a layup by sophomore guard Trisha Peterson, Montclair State finished the half 25-15.
In the third quarter, Montclair State brought the score up to 31-18, but TCNJ minimized the gap after a six-point run from freshman guard/forward Rachel Gazzola. Despite their best efforts, the Lions were unable to get closer to the Red Hawks, who closed the quarter with a three-pointer, making the score 35-24.
The Red Hawks continued to dominate offensively and defensively into the final quarter. The Lions gave it their all in the final stretch and scored 14 points, but the Red Hawks finished the game out strong and scored 17 points, also out-rebounding the Lions by 30.
Carter had another phenomenal offensive game, scoring 23 points and four rebounds. She also had an impressive defensive game and is becoming an all-around great player. Red Hawks Head Coach Karin Harvey has put a lot of trust into the rookie and it paid off.
“She’s super talented, she’s done a really nice job. She’s taken a lot of pressure off our offense so other people can do what they’re good at,” Harvey said.
Harvery went on to talk about what Carter has done for the team.
“Carter doesn’t mind having that pressure to score on her,” Coach Harvey said. “She’s done a good job at helping us balance our offense. She’s known for her scoring [and] she’s fun to watch. I would say today she played great defense, I’m excited about the defensive player she’s becoming.”
Carter has been an essential part of the team, scoring at least 20 points or more in the last three to four games. She has been a big part of the current streak held by the Red Hawks, and she has not let the pressure get to her. Instead, she is enjoying it and learning from every game she plays.
“It definitely feels awesome every single time. Every game is like a new challenge for us to keep it going,” Carter said. “Honestly the most important thing for us is to use every game as a learning experience and to take something out of every game and apply it to the next one. I feel like the pressure can only get to us if we allow it to, so we just have to keep playing basketball and having fun and the results will follow.”
When asked about keeping the momentum going, Assistant Head Coach Courtney Cunningham knows the team has the resources to keep it going.
“I think Coach Harvey does a really good job at that,” Cunningham said. “I think she focuses all of us every week and we try to make sure we do the little things and stick to our game plan. We are a really good defensive team.”