Undefeated to start the season.
A fourth-quarter explosion by the Montclair State University women’s basketball team was just enough to get the opening night victory over Vassar College with the final being 62-57.
The Red Hawks outscored the Brewers 24-11 while erasing an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter and head coach Karin Harvey was very impressed.
“I really liked that fourth quarter,” Harvey said. “You know I thought we dug deep. I thought we got a little gritty, we showed a little toughness, you know, and didn’t quit when we could’ve just been done and lost.”
This year’s team has a lot of new faces playing with each other and they are still learning how to play together, according to Harvey.
“I think they are just learning,” Harvey said. “One play, it can be a catalyst to the next play and the next play and I think they just came together as a team and really had strung together a few good plays.”
It was a slow start for the Red Hawks as they were held to just 6-26 shooting in the first half, which led to Vassar leading 24-18 at halftime.
However, that wouldn’t last as the Red Hawks amped up their aggression and players like junior forward Megan Duffy, senior guard Nickie Carter and freshman guard/forward Isabella Orlando got going.
It was that trio that closed the deal for the Red Hawks. Duffy and Carter combined for a handful of clutch layups and buckets while Orlando hit the shot of shots with 11 seconds remaining, a three-pointer from the wing to extend the lead to four.
Carter finished with 14 points, six rebounds, six steals and four assists while Orlando put up nine points and went 3-8 from beyond the arc in her college debut.
The senior guard is now 13 points away from the coveted 1,000-point milestone, and with another home game coming up in a few days, she has a good chance to reach it against the Ithaca College Bombers.
Duffy thought the team played hungry and earned it with their energy at the end of the game.
“I liked how we had a lot of grit and we were hungry at the very end of the game,” Duffy said. “Obviously in the last five minutes we came out with the win, so we had a lot of energy and grit.”
Last year in her first season, Duffy flew under the radar and was a key contributor for the Red Hawks on both sides of the ball. And it came into fruition once again in the first game of her sophomore year.
Duffy led all scorers with 17 and said coach Harvey’s advice is what helped spark her performance.
“I think, you know, my outside shot wasn’t really falling in the first half,” Duffy said. So then, [Harvey] told me to take it to the basket and they’ll foul you. That’s what we did and we won.”
It was a great start to the season for the Red Hawks and the Panzer Athletic Center should be electric Friday night when Montclair State hosts Ithaca at 5 p.m.