Lions upset No. 8/11 Red Hawks

By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher

The College of New Jersey Lions women’s basketball team upset the No. 8/11 Montclair State Red Hawks. They won 49-40 on Saturday afternoon at Packer Hall.

This is the second-time during the 2016-17 season that the Lions have defeated a ranked team. They also defeated No. 23 Richard Stockton University Ospreys 63-59 on Nov. 30, 2016.

“Over the last week or so, there’s been a different vibe, a different feeling,” TCNJ head coach Dawn Henderson said. “They’re very intense in practice and we have been able to make a couple of adjustments here and there. We made some adjustments on our defense [on Saturday] and it worked for us. All the credit goes to those kids; they have worked hard.”

Lions celebrate their win over No. 8/11 Montclair State Red Hawks (Photo by TCNJ Sports Information Department)

Lions celebrate their win over No. 8/11 Montclair State Red Hawks (Photo by TCNJ Sports Information Department)

TCNJ (8-7) is on a three-game win streak. This was their first win over Montclair State since Jan. 22, 2010 when the Lions won 65-61 at Packer Hall.

“I’m never going to count on three in a row — three in a row you win or three in a row you lose,” Henderson said. “It’s a huge win. Now, we have to get ready for Rutgers-Camden [on Wednesday night at the Rutgers-Camden Fitness and Athletic Center]. Those big wins against Stockton and Montclair are awesome, but we have to get Camden back. We lost by two or three [points] — whatever it was — and have to come ready to play them. I think we’re ready. I think they have a great mentality and we’re going one day at a time.”

The Red Hawks (14-1) lost for the first-time since March 5, 2016 when they lost 69-66 in overtime to the Albright College Lions in the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Championship.

“We knew they were a great team and we knew they were undefeated, which we didn’t let that phase us,” Kate O’Leary said. “We came out strong and knew if we played our game, it would be a tight game. We ended up being able to close it out, which makes this a great win for us.”

The Lions held the Red Hawks to their lowest output of the season with 40 points. Their previous lowest was 56 points to begin the season against Haverford College Fords.

The Red Hawks were averaging 67.3 points per game coming into the contest.

“We made some adjustments to our defense,” Henderson said. “We absolutely did; we scouted them pretty well. The staff and I came up with a few adjustments. The kids — I thought — played it through perfectly, especially in the first half, when we built our lead. All they need is confidence and together we can climb any mountain — and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”

Montclair State began the fourth quarter with a 9-2 run. Lions guard Nicole Shatsky broke up seven straight points by the Red Hawks before her basket.

Following the 9-2 run, Montclair State ended the game with just four points in the final four minutes. During that same stretch, the Lions had seven points.

TCNJ began the third quarter with an 8-3 run. Montclair State responded with a 9-2 run of their own to end the quarter.

The Lions led 28-14 at halftime. TCNJ outscored Montclair State 17-6 in the second quarter.

There was a stretch between the middle of the first quarter and a few minutes into the second quarter, where the Red Hawks were held scoreless for eight minutes. Following the Alex McKinnon basket, the Lions scored 13 points before Yazmine Lacey scored eight minutes later.

“Like coach [Dawn Henderson] said, we had a lot of different defenses that we would switch up on them,” O’Leary said. “In that time, we picked up two of their leading scorers and we denied them. We had all five players really working hard, boxing out and doing their jobs.”

TCNJ led 11-8 after the first quarter.

Sage Bennett led the Red Hawks with 11 points, five rebounds and a steal. Katie Sire had eight points, 12 rebounds, one assist and two steals. Zoe Curtis contributed seven points, four rebounds, one assist, one block and two steals.

Fellow starters Rachael Krauss and Kate Tobie combined for seven points. Tobie added three rebounds and five assists. Krauss had four rebounds and two steals.

Montclair State shot 25.4% from the field. They were 12.5% from beyond the arch after going 3-of-24. Krauss, Sire and Curtis each had a three-pointer, but they were 3-for-21 by themselves.

The Red Hawks had seven bench points. McKinnon led these players with four points, three rebounds and a block.

Nikki Schott led the Lions with 13 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and two blocks. O’Leary added 10 points, eight rebounds, three assists and one steal.

“I had my teammates get me open and get me good looks,” O’Leary said. “I also put back some offensive rebounds. It was a big team effort; everyone did their job. We were really hyped and was ready to go. We knew they were a great tea, but we really wanted to get this win.”

Fellow starters Chiara Palombi and Charlotte Schum had eight points each. Kim Dana added two points.

Palombi also had six rebounds and a steal. Schum had four rebounds, one assist and two steals. Dana had three rebounds, an assist and a block.

They shot 34.6% from the field. The Lions were 28.6% from beyond the arc, as they were 2-7. O’Leary and Schum and both three-pointers.

TCNJ had eight bench points. Christine Woods led these players with five points, six rebounds and an assist.

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