The Montclair State University women’s basketball team improved their record to 4-1 Monday night with a 62-58 win against Stevens Institute of Technology.
The thrilling win was a close one, with Stevens coming back in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter to try and overcome the Red Hawks. Consistent shots from senior forward Domonique Wirsing and free throws from junior forward Alex McKinnon helped secure the win in the fourth quarter.
“Although they were coming back and getting close, I think that we did have control of the game,” McKinnon said. “Something we were saying to the five people that were on the court was just take a deep breath, and lets finish this strong.”
The Red Hawks held the lead for almost the entire game, coming off strong in the first quarter with some baskets from McKinnon, as well as sophomore guard Kim Calloway. The majority of Montclair State’s points were scored in this quarter.
They continued their lead into the second quarter, starting it off at 17-11. Wirsing dominated the second quarter, adding 10 points to Montclair State’s score and giving the Red Hawks a 32-20 lead after the first half.
Wirsing and McKinnon were among the key players of the game, with McKinnon scoring 21 points for Montclair State along with six rebounds and shooting 4-5 from the three-point line. Wirsing contributed 18 points, while shooting 7-14 and 4-4 on free throws. Sophomore guards Taylor Brown and Cerys MacLelland helped bring the Red Hawks to the top as well, with Brown shooting 2-2 on free throws and contributing 10 points. MacLelland had eight rebounds.
Associate head coach Courtney Cunningham commented on how pleased she is with the team so far this year as well as this game.
“We can continue to get better,” Cunningham said. “Everyday we’re going to keep working on the defense, working on executing and just keep trying to out-rebound and out-work our opponents.”
Montclair State was almost perfect on free throws in the third quarter, which helped them keep the lead going strong. MacLelland shot 3-4 and Wirsing shot 2-2 on free throws. The Red Hawks really kept the momentum in this quarter, going up 46-35 and ending the quarter at 49-41.
The last quarter proved to be the most stressful one with a comeback from Stevens that Montclair State managed to hold off. Wirsing kept Stevens from getting ahead with six points, four of which came from crucial free throws, and McKinnon with five. The score was 60-56 in favor of Montclair State with one minute left.
Stevens took two timeouts within the last 15 seconds to try and find ways to overcome the Red Hawks. Three missed shots from Stevens, one being at the buzzer and a free throw point from McKinnon secured the win for Montclair State in the last two seconds of the game.
“It was a great test for us, it was really good to see us execute and pull out a close game,” Cunningham said. “I think that’s great experience for such a young team. I think if we keep working hard, we’re just going to continue to get better.”
With Stevens being a crucial team to beat this year, the win felt really good for both the players and coaches.
“I think that was a really big win for us, Stevens is a really good team and they’re going to win a lot of games,” McKinnon said. “To capture that win this early in the season with some of the contributions from different people on, our team is really big for us.”