Montclair St. Falls to Rowan in Battle of NJAC Unbeatens, 68-64

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Montclair, NJ - Forward Kate Matthews posted a double-double of 20 points along with 17 rebounds as Rowan University took over the top spot in the NJAC on Wednesday evening with a 68-64 win over 23rd-ranked Montclair State at the Panzer Athletic Center.

Valerie Garofalo had 16 points along with five rebounds as the Profs bounced back from their first loss of the year to improve to 12-1 overall while staying undefeated in the conference at 6-0. Rowan also snapped a seven-game losing streak against MSU as it picked up its first win in the series since a 73-71 victory on January 15, 2011.

Sophomore Katie Sire had 22 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and six steals for Montclair State, which fell to 9-4 on the year (5-1 NJAC) with their third loss in the last four outings.

A tightly-contested opening period, Montclair led 17-16 after the first quarter and opened up a 33-22 lead with 3:10 to go in the second as Taylor Harmon hit a short jumper in the paint. But Rowan whittled that lead down 33-30 as Matthews connected with 40 seconds left. Sire would answer with basket at the other end however Kaitlin Schullstrom got the offensive rebound off her own three-point miss and put back the carom with one second left as Rowan trailed 35-32 at the half.

In the third the Profs opened up the new half with an 11-2 run to take a 43-37 lead. Matthews had six points in the run that was answered by Montclair at the close of the priod. Sage Bennett had a three-point play to pull the Red Hawks within a point and a three by Rachael Krauss put MSU in front 47-45 with 1:12 remaining. Summer Crilley tied the game on the next trip down the floor but Sire's basket with 44 ticks helped Montclair State to a 49-47 lead after three.

MSU would get its lead to 57-51 with 7:54 to play on a basket by Sire and the Red Hawks would hold on to the lead until under the four-minute mark when Garofalo scored ona three-point play knotting the contest at 61-61. Melissa Lake gave the Profs the lead 46 seconds later however Sire answered with a basket to forge a 63-63 deadlock. Rowan would unbreak the tie with 1:56  left on two free throws by Crilley and the Profs forced a shot-clock violation which would lead to two foul shots by Matthews for a 67-63 advantage.

Yazmine Lacey hit one free throw with 51 seconds to make to score 67-64 but MSU missed a chance to pull closer off a turnover and was forced to foul with 18 seconds. Crilley hit one for what turned out to be the final margin.

Crilley finished with nine points and six rebounds for Rowan, which hit 10-of-15 free throws in the final period and finished 15-of-22 at the line. That helped offset a 39 percent (25-of-63) shooting ninght that including just 3-of-16 shooting from behind the arc.

Bennett finished with 18 points, seven rebounds and three blocks for the Red Hawks, who were 5-of-12 at the line.

Montclair State heads to Camden, NJ on Saturday, January 9 to take on Rutgers-Camden at 1:00 pm.