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Montclair State Women’s Basketball Books Ticket to NJAC Tournament Final

Red Hawks will host TCNJ on Tournament Championship on Friday.

Montclair State Red Hawks Head Coach Karin Harvey said afterwards, “If you want to continue to win championships or put yourself in a position to win a championship you need your seniors to step up.”

Facing off against Rowan University (16-10) in the NJAC Tournament Semifinals at the Panzer Athletic Center on Tuesday night, the trio of back-to-back NJAC Player Of the Year and three-time, First Team All-Conference Katie Sire, First-Team All-Conference Katie Tobie and Second Team All-Conference Taylor Harmon delivered in the clutch for the Red Hawks.

Harmon and Tobie provided the bulk of offense in the first half for the Red Hawks. Harmon poured in 12 of her 16 points while Tobie added eight as Montclair State led 27-25 at halftime. Held scoreless in the first half, Sire erupted by supplying 10 of her 11 points on the night, allowing Montclair State to expand its lead to 49-40 at the end of the third quarter. Not only an offensive factor, Sire dominated the boards grabbing 19 of the Red Hawks 49 rebounds.

In the fourth quarter, it was Tobie’s turn to run the offense, quickly scoring five of her 13 points (21 points) in the second half including two trifecta’s as the Red Hawks advantage ballooned to 55-40 with 9:16 remaining.

“Pretty close at halftime and we know we had to pick it up defensively and offensively and the team did a really good job,” said Tobie. Taylor Harmon was great in the first half and they didn’t have an answer for her and set the tone in the second half. Even when Katie (Sire) is struggling, she is doing something to help us and know she would come back and have a strong second half.”

Just when Montclair State seemed to have pulled away, Rowan charged back with a 6-0 run, cutting the deficit down to 58-49 with 6:14 left. Profs sophomore guard Dominique Peters served as the catalyst tallying five of her game-high 15 points. However, Montclair State (22-3) managed to hold on to the lead knocking down 7 of 10 free throws down the stretch for the 65-55 victory.

“I’m very proud of the seniors and thought everyone else did a great job,” Harvey said. “These guys have done everything in their careers, started out as freshman when we went to the Final Four and know how to win. Taylor Brown, a freshman handing the press and Alex McKinnon (9 points) is tough and we ask her to do a 100 things and she does it all from being a post defender to shooting the three and guard a guard and very versatile.”

“We’re a defensive team and three quarter of the season played great defense and last three weeks changed our focus and need to score a little more so. We just got away from our defense but got back to it tonight and in the first half and three quarters of the game.”

In the NJAC Tournament Championship Game (7:00 p.m.) on Friday night, the Red Hawks will take on the 2nd seed TCNJ (21-5). The two teams’ split the regular season series. Montclair State is seeking its sixth consecutive NJAC Championship Title.

“We have been to the finals three other years prior to this so we know what it takes to get there,” Tobie said. “We had a lot of close games this year and more than we usually have and our younger players have more experience with that. We’re so happy to be back in and really excited and doing it four years in a row is just remarkable. I’m just happy me, Katie (Sire) and Taylor (Harmon) could do all of this together and make it back.”

Harvey, on the impending match-up against TCNJ in the championship game, said, “It’s going to be a battle, a three-point difference between us, here we won by three and lost down there by three. We have to get our legs together, be smart next couple of days and recuperate a little bit and try to work more on the mental game than physical one.”

“Kind of hard to wrap my mind around it, that win for the seniors was their 101st and I’m fortunate and blessed and really enjoy what I do and coaching staff I work with. Courtney (Cunnigham) has been with me for 10 years and we have run this team together.”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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