Montclair St. Tops Stockton, 59-53 as Red Hawks Earn No. 1 Seed in NJAC Tourney

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Montclair, NJ – The Montclair State women's basketball team picked up a pair of wins on Wednesday evening. The first came on the court as the Red Hawks used a strong first quarter and a huge rebounding edge on the offensive glass for a 59-53 victory over Stockton University.

The second win came well after the six-point triumph as the Red Hawks earned the No. 1 seed in the upcoming NJAC Tournament following a coin flip that was conducted  as Montclair  (19-6) finished tied with Rowan for the league's regular-season championship. The Red Hawks and Profs each split their regular-season meetings and their identical 15-3 conference marks also included losses to Stockton and Kean.

Since both tiebreakers were even the third tiebreak was invoked – a coin flip which went Montclair's favor meaning for the fourth consecutive season the Red Hawks are the top seed. MSU, the three-time defending champion, will have a first-round bye and host a semifinal contest on Tuesday, February 23 against No. 5 William Paterson or No. 4 Kean.  Game time is set for 7:00 pm in the Panzer Athletic Center.

Sophomore Katie Sire registered her eight double-double of the year with 18 points and 12 rebounds as MSU, winners of eight straight, avenged one of its three NJAC losses this season. Zoe Curtis added 13 points and seven rebounds while Sage Bennett added 11 points and six rebounds. Sophomore guard Kate Tobie posted a fine all-around game with six points, four rebounds, eight assists and four steals.

Lea Mendolla had 15 points and five rebounds for Stockton (20-5, 14-4 NJAC), which will be the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament. The Ospreys will host Rutgers-Camden in the first round on Saturday, February 20.

Montclair held Stockton to just 2-of-9 shooting and forced seven turnovers turning those miscues into nine points in a 20-4 opening period. Mendolla scored off the opening tap however Curtis scored the next five points putting MSU in the lead. Christina Taylor made the score 5-4 before the Red Hawks scored the final 15 points including a pair of three's from Sire and one by Rachael Krauss to close out the quarter.

In the second quarter, the Red Hawks were just 2-of-17 from the floor but managed to maintain its double-digit lead with six offensive rebounds, something that would become a theme throughout the remainder of the contest. Bennett sank a pair of free throws with six minutes to go giving MSU a 24-8 lead before Stockton scored seven of the last nine points to trim the lead back to 26-15 at halftime.

Stockton would make 7-of-11 attempts from the field in the third quarter but Montclair's relentlessness on the offensive glass offset that as the teams tallied 16 points apiece. MSU had six offensive rebounds in the period allowing it not only to get a few second-chance points but also limit the Ospreys possessions. Stockton got the lead down to four points on three occasions the last coming on April Peterson's layup with 2:28 making the score 35-31. But Sire drilled a three pointer and added a layup with 22 seconds before Curtis' two foul shots gave Montclair an 11- point lead after three.

Tobie's layup with 5:53 to go in the fourth gave Montclair a 48-34 lead however Stockton would make on last push getting within 52-46 on Saqui Coppage's layup with 2:29 left. Sire answered with a layup and after Coppage hit two at the line, Krauss drained a three-pointer extending Montclair's advantage with 57-48 with 1:16 to go.  

Montclair State finished with a 41-30 margin on the boards, including 21-8 on the offensive end. The Red Hawks also committed just 12 turnovers in the game.