Montclair, NJ – Senior Zoe Curtis put forth a tremendous effort with 17 points and 15 rebounds along with three assists and four steals as Montclair State knocked off Westfield State, 81-73 in the first round of the NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Championship at the Panzer Athletic Center on Friday evening.
NJAC Player of the Year Katie Sire and senior Rachael Krauss complimented Curtis' effort with 23 and 21 points respectively as the Red Hawks (26-2) moved on to the second round against UMass Dartmouth (23-5) on Saturday, March 4 at 5:00 pm. The Corsairs defeated La Roche College, 71-64 in the first game.
Sneior guard Jill Valley match Sire for game-high honors with points for the Owls (19-9), who were making their second straight and fifth overall appearance in the NCAAs. Westfield State reached the tournament after capturing the MASAC title last weekend.
Westfield State scored the first five points of the game and used its frenetic pace to maintain its lead through the first quarter. Using five-player rotation on short-like hockey shifts, led 26-24 after one quarter as Shay Robinson hit two free throws with three ticks before the end of the period.
The Owls held on to that advantage until midway through the second when Krauss tied the game at 30-30 with one of her seven three-point field goals in the game. The was quickly answered by Kirsy Segarra, who answered with a three of her own sparking an 8-0 by the Owls who grabbed a 38-30 lead with 2:08 to go on a Robinson bucket.
MSU the reeled off a nine-point burst to close the half. Krauss had back-to-back three-pointers and Curtis made two from the line as Montclair took its first lead of the game with 30 seconds left before halftime at 39-38.
The Red Hawks then stayed in front the rest of the way. Leading by one at the break, Curtis hit from behind the arc to widen the gap to 46-40. The Owls trimmed that back three points with 5:35 to go however Taylor Harmon scored on a jumper and consecutive triples by Krauss and Sire gave Montclair a 55-44 lead with 3:54 remaining in the third.
Montclair held a 61-52 advantage entering the fourth and got the lead back to double digits, 65-54 with 7:31 to play on a Sire jumper. Valley sank two at the line with 5:37 to go bringing the margin within 67-61 but Sire scored on a layup and Curtis added another pushing the lead to 71-61 with 3:43 remaining. Westfield State would only get as close as eight the rest of the way.
Krauss finished 7-of-10 from behind the arc for the Red Hawks, who were 10-of-24 from long range. Krauss and Sire each grabbed six rebounds while junior Kate Tobie posted another solid effort with seven points, five rebounds and nine assists. Harmon chipped in with six points, four rebounds and four assists.