It wasn’t easy, but the Montclair State women’s basketball team pulled away late and ultimately defeated the Williams Ephs, 61-46. Junior forward Katie Sire tallied 14 points and lead the Red Hawks in scoring for the second consecutive game, and Montclair State has a 2-0 record to start the 2016-17 season.
The Red Hawks traveled three hours to Williamstown, Massachusetts, and they got off to a quick start in their first game of the Williams Tip-Off. After surrendering four quick points to start the first quarter, Montclair State launched into a 16-4 run to close the quarter.
Williams allowed Montclair State to penetrate into the lane with ease early on, but the Red Hawks’ offense stalled in the second quarter. The women’s basketball team didn’t have a field goal for nearly the first seven minutes of the second quarter (they notched only two points off of free throws in that span). Williams sophomore guard Lauren Vostal heated up and scored six second quarter points, and the Ephs trailed 25-20 at the end of the first half.
The Red Hawks were outrebounded 17-3 by Williams in the third quarter. To make matters worse, Montclair State had five turnovers and the game started to slip out of their control. Vostal rattled off 10 points in the third quarter and her team trailed by only one point entering the game’s final quarter.
Montclair State’s defense reemerged and the team easily pulled away from Williams in the fourth quarter. Junior forward Sage Bennett and freshman forward Alex McKinnon hit late back-to-back three pointers, and senior guard Rachel Krauss hit a three with 20 seconds left to seal a 61-46 victory for the Red Hawks.
The Press Bailed the Red Hawks Out
Williams committed 26 turnovers – and that was mostly because of Montclair State’s effective full-court press. The Red Hawks didn’t press for all 40 minutes, but they successfully forced the Ephs into numerous traps near half court. Williams couldn’t solve Montclair State’s press all night and their point guard, senior Devon Caveney, finished with nine turnovers.
Houston, We Have a (Rebounding) Problem
Montclair State’s poor rebounding was exposed on Saturday night. Not only were they outrebounded 17-3 in the third quarter, but they couldn’t even secure just one rebound in the first five minutes of the second half. Head Coach Karin Harvey inserted juniors Taylor Harmon and Yazmine Lacey into the lineup at the same time to try to solve the team’s rebounding struggles, but it didn’t seem to help too much.
Montclair State’s Struggles From the Three-Point Line Continue
After two games, the women’s basketball team has gone 12-46 (26 percent) from three. The shots haven’t necessarily been bad looks, but they just haven’t gone in. During the 2015-16 season, the Red Hawks shot 35.2 percent from three and it helped them pull through some tough moments. It’s a small sample size and it’s too early to tell whether this will be a problem, but their three-point shooting has not looked good so far.
If there’s any silver lining, Krauss nailed a three to end the game against Williams. Until that point, she was 2-13 from beyond the arc and, this is a bit superstitious, but sometimes it helps for a shooter to see their shot go in.
Sage Bennett was Everywhere
Senior forward Sage Bennett has looked like one of the team’s most improved players to start the season. Saturday night was no different. Bennett drove confidently to the basket and she caused havoc on the defensive end. Bennett finished with 13 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals, and she’s solidifying an already-deep Red Hawks’ front court.
The women’s basketball team will face Hamilton College on Nov. 20 at 1 p.m., and then they will begin New Jersey Athletic Conference play on Nov. 22 against Kean University at 6 p.m.
(Editor’s note: Saturday’s game was streamed live, courtesy of NSN Sports)