Wednesday marked senior night for the Montclair State University women’s basketball team, but it wasn’t just the senior class that had a night to remember — junior guard Nickie Carter did as well.
Carter left her fingerprints all over this game. She set her career-high in points with 34 total points in the win, as the Red Hawks extended its winning streak to eight in a row after defeating Rutgers-Newark in a blowout 81-39 victory at the Panzer Athletic Center.
“Going into the game, I felt really good,” Carter said. “I’ve been working on not forcing anything and taking what the defense gives me. It felt good to have my teammates find me in the flow of the offense. We all want each other to succeed [and] that’s what makes playing for this team so fun.”
After Montclair State’s victory against Rutgers-Newark, the women’s basketball team is now 14-7 overall and 6-4 at home.
Turnovers were an issue for Montclair State early on despite the win. The Scarlet Raiders’ full-court press made bringing the ball up the court a challenge. The lady Red Hawks had 11 turnovers in the first quarter, which kept the game closer than it otherwise might have been. The end of the first quarter had a score of 17-12 in favor of Montclair State, with Carter scoring 13 points in the period.
Montclair State defense never allowed Rutgers to shoot above 27% in any quarter throughout the ball game, and held Rutgers 0-14 from the three-point range for the game. This was a pleasing sight, according to head coach Karin Harvey.
“Our biggest improvement this season has been defense, especially team defense,” Harvey said. “We have been holding opponents under 50 points and we’re doing a great job rebounding. Rutgers is really quick, so we started off in man defense, but later on switched to a 3-2 zone because they don’t shoot it well from the outside.”
The second quarter started with Montclair State going on a 14-0 run that began at the end of the first quarter. The Red Hawks outscored Rutgers Newark 25-6 in the second quarter.
Freshman forward Olivia Vero subbed in during the second quarter and immediately made an impact with her interior defense, rebounding and playmaking ability. Vero finished with eight points and five blocks, with some of her rejections creating raucous cheers from the fans and the men’s basketball team.
The third quarter was dominated by the lady Red hawks, as they took a 62-30 lead and never looked back. Montclair State had a well-balanced attack and was getting to the paint with ease. They also shot 7-11 from the free-throw line which helped them extend their lead.
The fourth quarter was much more of the same for Montclair State. They outscored Rutgers-Newark in every single quarter.
The Red Hawks have turned their season around with their recent performances during the second half of the season and look to enter the playoffs soon with full momentum. This team was below .500 just under a month ago. However, they have made a statement for the rest of the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) over the course of their eight-game winning streak.
Montclair State hosts New Jersey City University (NJCU) on Saturday, Feb. 12 at 3 p.m. before closing out the regular season at Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, on Feb. 16.