No. 5 Montclair State Completes Regular-Season Unbeaten, Ties School Mark for Victories
Montclair, NJ – Freshman guard-forward Shalette Brown (Somerset, NJ, Franklin Township) and junior guard Nicosia Henry (Bolingbrook, IL, Bolingbrook) each turned in "double-double" performances to lead undefeated Montclair State University to its 25th straight victory with a 76-47 win over The College of New Jersey in a New Jersey Athletic Conference contest Wednesday evening at the Panzer Athletic Center.
The NJAC Rookie of the Week eight times this season, Brown scored a game-high 14 points and grabbed a game-high tying 10 rebounds while Henry had 11 points and 10 rebounds to top five Montclair State players in double figures.
Montclair State, which is ranked fifth in the nation on the D3Hoops.com Top25 Poll and ninth on the USA Today/Women's Basketball Coaches Association Poll, remains one of two unbeaten teams in NCAA Div. III this season at 25-0 and completes its New Jersey Athletic Conference regular season title with a perfect 16-0 mark. MSU, which also won the regular season NJAC title in 1989-90 and 2008-09, is only the third school to go undefeated in conference play in the last 13 years. Kean went 13-0 in 2009-10, which was played in a divisional format, and College of New Jersey posted an 18-0 record in 2000-01.
MSU, which has already set school records for the best start to a season and for consecutive victories, has now tied the school record for wins in a season, set by the 1977-78 team that recorded a 25-7 campaign and reached the Final Four of the AIAW Championship at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion. The Red Hawks, who have also won their last 18 games at home dating back to last season, have defeated TCNJ the last four straight meetings and lead the all-time series 39-30.
Montclair State also recorded the ninth unbeaten regular season in its athletic history and it is the second time that the program achieved that mark as it went 12-0 during the 1970-71 campaign.
Ranked second in the nation in scoring margin (28.7 ppg.) and seventh in scoring defense (44.9 ppg.), Montclair State held TCNJ scoreless for a period of 7:36 in the first half as they took control of the game. Trailing 10-8 with 13:53 remaining in the opening stanza, MSU ran off 15 straight points, including three of a season-high 10 3-pointers made in the game, to take a 23-10 advantage at the 8:00 mark.
The College of New Jersey, which had a four-game winning streak snapped, dropped its record to 17-8 on the year and 11-5 in NJAC play. The Lions, who led only twice in the game at 3-2 and 10-8, came back briefly and closed the deficit to 25-17 with 3:25 left in the first half. But the Red Hawks built their margin back up to as much as 14 points twice in the first half, the last at 36-22 with 15 seconds on the clock before heading into the intermission ahead 36-24.
Montclair State, which has been victorious by double digits in every game this season, blew the game open at the start of the second half. MSU continued its offensive outburst by scoring the first nine points to increase its lead to 45-24 with 17:40 to play. The Red Hawks never looked back, falling under the 20-point bulge only a couple of times in the second half.
MSU, ranked second in the nation in steals per game (18.4), pilfered 17 in the contest. The Red Hawks, who also rank third in turnover margin (12.3), forced New Jersey into 23 turnovers.
Sophomore guard Janitza Aquino (Kearny, NJ, Kearny) scored 14 points, sophomore forward Melissa Tobie (Elizabeth, NJ, Roselle Catholic) collected 11 points, nine rebounds, five steals and two blocked shots, and freshman reserve guard Jen Kuczynski (Springfield, NJ, Jonathan Dayton) added 12 points for Montclair State on 4-of-6 shooting from three-point range..
Sophomore guard Kylie O'Donnell (Magnolia, N.J./Sterling) topped New Jersey with 13 points with sophomore guard Kelly Coughlin (Trumbull, Conn./Trumbull) chipped in 11 points for the Lions.
Montclair State will now receive a first-round bye as the top seed in the upcoming New Jersey Athletic Conference Championship. The Red Hawks will host either Ramapo College or Rutgers University-Newark on Wednesday, Feb. 20 in one of the semifinal round contests. TCNJ, which will be the third seed in the tournament, will host Richard Stockton College on Saturday in NJAC Tournament first round play.