The third seed New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Montclair State University women’s basketball team’s season ended Saturday afternoon. This came after a difficult playoff loss against sixth seed NJAC opponent Kean University, 72-67, in the first round of the NJAC tournament. With this loss to Kean, the Red Hawks ended their sixth consecutive grip of the NJAC Championship.
Kean freshman guard Shannon McCoy had another sensational game against the Red Hawks, scoring 29 points including two crucial three-pointers in the fourth quarter. In addition, Kean junior forward Cindy Foresta scored 16 points, 12 rebounds and had four steals. Junior guard Payce Lange had 16 points and three rebounds.
On the other hand, Red Hawk senior forward Domonique Wirsing had an extraordinary performance of 17 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. Red Hawk sophomore guard Kim Calloway also had 15 points and nine rebounds.
Heading into the game, the Red Hawks looked to respond after an unsatisfactory home loss to Rutgers University-Camden on Feb. 13. Not only that, but the Red Hawks were also looking to get their revenge against Kean. Last time these arch rivals played against each other was on Jan. 28 at Panzer Athletic Center. Kean won the game 83-65 behind McCoy’s 30 points and seven rebounds.
Calloway spoke about the loss to Kean.
“I think we are okay, as long as we competed today,” Calloway said. “It definitely sucks to lose, of course. However, we competed and I’m proud of our girls.”
Wirising also commented on the game.
“I’m really proud of my team and we’ve come a long way this season. No one even thought we would make this far,” Wirsing said. “I think everyone hates to lose, but I’m really proud of what we did today.”
In the first quarter, the Red Hawks were down 16-12. The Red Hawks started to show some urgency during the quarter by some threes from Calloway and junior forward Alex McKinnon to give the Red Hawks an 8-6 lead with over five minutes left.
Afterward, Kean answered back from two consecutive threes from McCoy and Kean sophomore guard Casey Filiault. Late in the quarter, Calloway led a tremendous fast-break layup to put Kean’s lead to four.
Offensively, Foresta pushed the pace for Kean and enlarged their lead to 22-14 with 6:50 remaining in the second quarter from two layups plus two attempts from the foul line. With over three minutes left in the quarter, McCoy drained a three to make the score 32-22 for Kean.
The Red Hawks went on an 8-3 run after Wirsing converted a three, followed by Red Hawk freshman guard Julia Sutton connecting a layup and launching from downtown. Kean had the lead at halftime by five.
Despite the Red Hawks’ big height advantage over some players on Kean, they were out rebounded 22-12. Throughout the half, Calloway and Wirsing led the way for the Red Hawks on offense with each scoring nine points. Meanwhile, McCoy had 13 points while Foresta scored 10 points and five rebounds.
In the third quarter, the Red Hawks opened with a 10-2 run. It was the Red Hawks first lead of the game since the first quarter. Red Hawk sophomore guard Cerys MacLelland made two straight layups to give the Red Hawks a 40-37 lead with less than six minutes left.
Midway through the quarter, McCoy gave the lead back for Kean from back-to-back layups. With 2:11 remaining in the quarter, McKinnon scored in the paint to tie the score 48-48. Later on, both Foresta and Calloway traded each other from downtown to even the score 51-51.
At the end of the period, Calloway suffered a serious injury, as she was grabbing on to her shoulder. As Calloway was lying on the court, she was screaming in intense pain. Calloway discussed what transpired.
“Yeah, I dislocated my shoulder, but I’m fine,” Calloway said. “Just get better for the off-season.”
Luckily, Calloway was able to proceed.
At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Red Hawks had some momentum by a mid-range jumper, followed by Red Hawk sophomore guard Taylor Brown draining a three to give the Red Hawks a 5-0 run over with eight minutes left in the period. Nevertheless, Kean came back and scored six unanswered points to regain the advantage. The lead changed twice before McCoy hit a three to make the score 62-58 Kean.
After Wirsing converted a layup to put Kean’s lead to two with more than five minutes left. McCoy would yet again drain another three to extend Kean’s lead to five. Once McCoy went to the foul line and failed to score two free throws, MacLelland made a layup with 2:52 left. Down five with 1:04 on the game clock, Brown hit a crucial three to place the notch 67-65.
Subsequently, Wirsing hit two huge free throws, giving Kean a 68-67 lead while 46 seconds left on the clock. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for the Red Hawks as Kean would convert on four of six from the foul line and finish the game victorious.
After the game, Wirsing deliberated how the Red Hawks would like to bounce back and move forward for the upcoming 2019 season.
“I know all the Red Hawks will be in the gym as soon as they can,” Wirsing said. “They’re going to be a strong team next year, and I’m really excited to come back and watch them play.”