Montclair State’s women’s basketball team and Rowan University struggled to get much going in the first half. The Red Hawks took a 29-24 lead going into halftime, but both teams hovered around 30 percent shooting. Two threes from senior guard Zoe Curtis helped Montclair State stay on top but, other than that, there weren’t many positives to take into halftime.
Then, the Red Hawks exploded for a 28 point third quarter. The women’s basketball team launched into a 13-0 run after Rowan tied the game at 31-31 and blew open a 20 point lead. Junior forward Katie Sire lead the charge with 12 points in the third quarter, and her 20 point performance lifted Montclair State to a 68-62 victory over Rowan on Saturday.
“I think I knew just coming out in the second half that I was a little off in the first half,” Sire said after the game. “So I just had to be focused, not let it get to me and just play my game.”
Saturday marked Sire’s fourth 20 point performance since the beginning of 2017. Senior forward Sage Bennett contributed 12 points, and Curtis and junior guard Kate Tobie each scored 10 points.
Junior forward Yazmine Lacey played 13 minutes off the bench and pulled down 10 rebounds. Lacey dominated the offensive glass with seven offensive rebounds, simply grabbing some rebounds over her opponents through brute strength. Late in the third quarter, Lacey grabbed three consecutive offensive rebounds within eight seconds, got fouled and sent her opponent thundering down to the floor in the process.
Montclair State improved to 18-1 with Saturday’s victory and they top the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) with an 11-1 conference record. The Red Hawks have only six games left before the NJAC playoffs and face tough in-conference competition as they are set to play Stockton University, currently sitting at third place in the NJAC, two times in the next six days.
With that in mind, Head Coach Karin Harvey is happy with how the team is playing as they hit the final stretch of the season.
“We’re playing pretty well,” Harvey said after Saturday’s game. “We’re rebounding well, we’re defending well. We’re able to create some offense without having to press so much. This is going to be a tough week for us, so it will be a good test.”
Sire echoed Harvey’s sentiments.
“Overall, as a team, we’re playing very well right now and I think we’re on the right track,” Sire said.
The Red Hawks continued to use Lacey, junior forward Taylor Harmon and freshman forward Alex McKinnon as their three main bench players on Saturday, and that rotation will likely continue going into the NJAC playoffs and, presumably, the NCAA DIII Tournament.
Montclair State will go on the road and face Stockton University on Jan. 30 and William Patterson University on Feb. 1. The Red Hawks will return to Panzer Athletic Center on Saturday, Feb. 4 to finish the regular season series against Stockton.