Harris presents double trouble for Devils' foes

Gabrielle Harris gives FDU-Florham another scoring threat as the Devils enter MAC Freedom conference play.
FDU-Florham athletics file photo

Entering this season, FDU-Florham head coach Marc Mitchell knew that he had a potent shooter in sophomore guard Kendrea Williams. Williams led the Devils last year with 19.8 points per game and knocked down 75 three-pointers, a team single-season record, on her way to being named the D3hoops.com Rookie of the Year.

Mitchell knew less about what sophomore guard Gabrielle Harris, who played at William Paterson as a freshman, could contribute. But at FDU-Florham’s first practice, he learned.

"I saw that she was a natural scorer,” Mitchell said. “We went kind of hard and went hard at her, and she stepped up to the challenge.”

After that one practice, Mitchell said, “I realized then, I said, ‘Hey, we have something really, really special here with these two young ladies.’”

What FDU-Florham has is the most powerful scoring tandem in Division III women’s basketball. Williams is leading the nation with 25.2 points per game, while Harris ranks ninth with 22.8 points per contest. No other team has two players in the top 10.

Together, Williams and Harris have led the Devils to a 7-4 record and five wins in their last six games.

Williams has continued her torrid three-point shooting this season, going 51-for-134 (38.1 percent) from beyond the arc. She broke the team record for three-pointers in a game—seven, a mark that she had shared since last year with former player Leigh-Ann Lively—with nine three-pointers at Drew on Dec. 4. She made nine more against Hartwick on Dec. 16.

“If I drive and it gets clogged, she’s always sitting at the three-point line waiting for a guaranteed three-pointer,” Harris said. “She shoots a three like a layup.”

Williams has also made seven three-pointers in two different games this season. She finished the game against Hartwick with 45 points, a career high and team record. “Kendrea’s shot is so pure and consistent,” Mitchell said.

Meanwhile Harris gets her points mainly by driving for layups and shooting jumpers. “Her mid-range shot is the best on our team,” Mitchell said. In FDU-Florham’s most recent game, a 104-71 win at Lehman on Dec. 29, Harris had a game-high 31 points. She made 15 of 25 field goals.

“This year, I could break down a player way better,” said Harris, who averaged 14.3 points per game at William Paterson. “Crossover, behind-the-back, go to the basket, stuff like that.”

Williams and Harris also make their free throws. Williams is shooting 86.8 percent from the foul line, while Harris is at 78.1 percent. Williams made all 16 of her foul shots over the Devils’ last three games.

Williams has taken 198 shots this season, while Harris has taken 193. No one else on the team has attempted more than 96 field goals. Still, Mitchell is not satisfied with his leading scorers.

“They need to shoot more,” he said. “They’re really nice kids and unselfish kids, and that’s their nature. They need to have more of a killer mentality.”

For now, Williams and Harris have tons of talent, and FDU-Florham’s opponents have two of the toughest defensive assignments in the country. 

“Either they’re going to close out on her, or they’re going to close out on me,” Williams said. “We balance each other out.”

The Devils open conference play tonight at home against Wilkes (3-6) and then head to Misericordia (6-4) for one of the toughest road games on the schedule.

Tobie's big weekend helps Red Hawks return to rankings

For the past few seasons, it was forward Sage Bennett. Now it’s senior point guard Kate Tobie who isn’t getting enough credit, according to Montclair State head coach Karin Harvey.

“Katie Sire’s so fun to watch and so great at everything, but Kate Tobie, really, she’s kind of the key,” Harvey said. “When she plays well, we could probably beat anyone.”

Tobie helped No. 25 Montclair State (11-1) win its holiday tournament last week with two big performances. She had 14 points, nine assists, three steals, and two blocks in the Red Hawks’ first game, a 75-57 win over DeSales on Friday. She went 6-for-8 from the field and made two of three three-pointers. The Red Hawks re-entered the Top 25 on the strength of those wins.

Tobie then scored a career-high 20 points in the championship game on Saturday, a 74-61 win against Albright. Tobie made six of 11 field goals, including both of her three-point attempts, and all six of her free throws. Her seven points in the first quarter, when Sire was scoreless, were crucial to keeping the game competitive.

Tobie is now averaging 10.3 points and 6.5 assists per game.

“If I could get 20 points all the time, that would be great,” she said. “But I just want to do whatever we need in the moment.”

Ramapo looks to rebound from rough weekend in Vegas

Ramapo had a rough trip to Las Vegas for the eight annual D3hoops.com Classic where the Roadrunners (9-3) lost to Ohio Wesleyan 98-69 and Central 74-69. Ohio Wesleyan buried Ramapo under 25 made three-pointers and Central erased a 19-point lead to upset the Roadrunners. Ramapo head coach Chuck McBreen talked with D3hoops.com team member (and New Jersey City University Director of Athletic Communications and Marketing) Ira Thor about the losses and the road forward, which includes a big game at TCNJ this Saturday.

Sarah Sommer

Sarah Sommer is a freelance journalist in New York City. She began writing for D3hoops.com in March 2015, when she covered the women's NCAA Tournament. She is excited to continue covering Division III basketball as the Atlantic columnist.
2011-2015 columns: See Around the Atlantic/Mid-Atlantic