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Women’s Basketball Looks To Regain Ground In The NJAC

by Thomas Gaffney

The action for the Montclair State University women’s basketball team did not stop through the university’s winter break as they played seven games throughout the holidays and into the beginning of the spring 2023 semester.

Five of those games were conference games within the NJAC (New Jersey Athletic Conference) and two came from the team’s trip to Las Vegas, Nevada to compete in the D3 Hoops Classic.

Before the break, the Red Hawks were 5-4, their last win coming from Hunter College in New York, on Dec. 13, winning 76 to 44. Leading the Red Hawks was senior guard Nickie Carter with 18 points, five assists and five rebounds.

The Red Hawks continued the action after 15 days on a trip to Las Vegas to compete in the D3 Hoops Classic. The first game was played against Amherst College. They failed to secure the win but a bright spot was once again Carter with 21 points.

Although the team lost, sophomore forward and center Olivia Vero had a mark rarely done by anyone within Division III women’s basketball. Vero secured six blocks in the game, the second most by any player in the history of the D3hoops.com Classic Tournament.

The next game was against the University of Southern Maine. The Red Hawks fought hard but again failed to win. A different player was the main star for the Red Hawks as freshman guard and forward Isabella Orlando scored eight points in only 15 minutes. It was an efficient offensive game for Orlando.

The trip came to an end with the Red Hawks going 0-2.

But Montclair State would not let that bring them down as they returned back to the Panzer Athletic Center with a five-game stretch of NJAC divisional games starting with Ramapo College of New Jersey.

In the first game at Montclair State since the start of the break, the game ended 63-53 and the stretch continued bleakly. But the outlook for the Red Hawks did improve.

Game two took place at Panzer and the Red Hawks came out ready to play. They played Stockton University and took the win 72-61, led by Carter with 15 points.

With junior guard Kendall Hodges out for the season after sustaining an injury early on in the season, Carter will likely be the main offensive production going forward as we saw with these games.

The next game was against Rutgers University-Newark and the Red Hawks came through Rutgers-Newark like a tornado. Winning the game 84-39, that was the biggest blowout this season by the Red Hawks. And it was a full team effort, having a whopping 13 players play.

Game four was against Rowan University. The Red Hawks took them down 73-67, making it a three-game win streak for them. They were led by Carter again with 31 points and Vero with an astounding performance of 15 points and 13 rebounds.

The final game of the five-game stretch was against Kean University. The Red Hawks failed to make it a four-game win streak, losing 58 – 41. That mark was the lowest number of points the Red Hawks have scored all season.

The Red Hawks finished this span with a 3-4 record, but in these games, it showed that the Red Hawks can bounce back from any sort of defeat.

With losing to New Jersey City University on Jan. 18 and winning against Rutgers University-Camden on Jan. 21, the Red Hawks are now 9-9 overall and 5-6 in the NJAC.

With seven games left, all being NJAC games, the Red Hawks look to make a push for a coveted spot in the NJAC tournament coming up in about a month. Their next game is against Rutgers-Newark at Panzer Athletic Center on Jan. 25.

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