The Montclair State women’s basketball team battled past some early nerves and ultimately defeated Haverford College 56-43 in the first game of the 2016-17 season on Tuesday night. Junior Katie Sire scored a team-high 16 points, and junior Kate Tobie and senior Sage Bennett each contributed nine points as well.
The Red Hawks went scoreless during the first two minutes of the first quarter, but Sire rattled off nine first quarter points to help the team to an early 16-7 lead. Montclair State’s swarming and aggressive defense allowed them to carry a 13-3 run into the middle of the second quarter.
The Red Hawks’ second unit – lead by juniors Erica Snow , Yazmine Lacey and sophomore Kiarra Dillard – helped to maintain the lead at various points in the game. But, with the starters on the floor, the offense ran smoother and there was less confusion setting up the defense and press.
Montclair State lead 31-14 at the end of the first half, but their defense slightly eased up in the third quarter. Haverford outscored the Red Hawks 12-11 but still trailed 42-26 at the end of the quarter. Ultimately, Montclair State defeated Haverford 56-43 and earned their first win of the 2016-17 season.
The Press is Back (For Now)
Head Coach Karin Harvey employed an all-hands-on-deck pressing system that led them to a Final Four two seasons ago, but last year’s team dialed back the press a bit. On Tuesday night, though, the press was back. The press was noticeably more aggressive, caused turnovers and forced Haverford’s offense to go deep in the shot clock. Harvey said before the season that pressing would depend on the situation and personnel, so we’ll see if the press stays hyper-aggressive throughout the rest of the season.
Picking Up Where They Left Off
The Red Hawks’ starters didn’t miss a beat from last season – and they looked better. Their passes were more precise. Their half-court offense ran smoother. Their cuts into the lane were sharper. Everyone looked comfortable on the floor together, and the bench showed some signs of improvement as well.
She Doesn’t Look Like a Rookie
Freshman forward Alex McKinnon didn’t stuff the stat sheet with four points and one steal, but she didn’t look like a rookie either. In nine minutes of play, McKinnon seamlessly fit into the Red Hawks’ gameplan. She spaced the floor, pressed effectively and helped the team in little ways. Making the correct rotation might not show up in the box score, but McKinnon played well in her debut.
It Wasn’t All Great
Montclair State shot 23.8 percent from the three-point line and were outrebounded 32-29 by Haverford. There was some confusion setting up the defense at times but, still, it was the first game of the season. The Red Hawks earned the win, and they will have the rest of the year to shore up their three-point shooting and rebounding.
The Red Hawks will go on the road and take part in the Williams Tip-Off, where they will face Williams College on Saturday, Nov. 19 and Hamilton College on Sunday, Nov. 20.