Scarlet Raiders’ Postseason Magic Ends in NJAC Title Game

More news about: Rutgers-Newark

MONTCLAIR, N.J. (February 25, 2017) The sixth-seeded Rutgers University-Newark women's basketball team saw its magical postseason run come to an end Saturday afternoon in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Tournament Championship title game.

The Scarlet Raiders were defeated by top-seeded and 15th-ranked Montclair State University, 71-61, as the Red Hawks used a fourth-quarter run to put the game out of reach.
Rutgers-Newark –the only team in NJAC Tournament history to reach the championship game as the sixth seed – ends its season with a record of 12-16, while Montclair State improves to 25-2 and earns the NJAC's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
"The fight and heart this team showed to make history the way we did was magical," said Head Coach Ashley Cieplicki. "Our seniors – Maria (Simmons), Shala (Glenn) and Sarah (Schwartz) – led this team all year and will be impossible to replace, but I am incredibly proud of this group and we can only hope to continue growing and improving as a program."
The Scarlet Raiders entered the game having won 6-of-8 overall and three-straight win-or-go-home contests, advancing to the conference final via triumphs at third-seeded Stockton University and second-seeded Kean University.
Rutgers-Newark gave the nationally-ranked Red Hawks all they could handle as a layup from senior guard Maria Simmons tied the game at 53 just 1:08 into the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, Montclair State countered with an 11-0 run over the next 3:34 to take control, earning its fifth-straight conference title.
A free throw from sophomore guard Faith Ashby pulled her team within eight points (64-56) with 3:28 on the clock, but that would be as close as the Scarlet Raiders could get.
Ashby finished with 26 points, seven rebounds and three steals, while Simmons totaled 19 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals. Senior guard Shala Glenn had 10 points and four rebounds.
Ashby staked Rutgers-Newark to an early 9-5 lead, but the Red Hawks responded with a 14-2 run to open a 19-11 margin behind five points from senior Zoe Curtis and four from junior Katie Tobie. Rutgers-Newark chipped away, getting within four thanks to back-to-back buckets from Ashby, and the Raiders headed to the 2nd stanza down 21-17.
The Montclair State defense turned things up early in the second quarter, keeping Rutgers-Newark off the scoreboard for the first 5:03 of the period while scoring nine points on the other end to take a 30-17 margin and force a Scarlet Raider timeout.
The timeout was just what Rutgers needed as the Raiders roared back before the end of the half. Glenn started the surge with a jumper, Ashby swished a three and before MSU could blink another Glenn basket made it a 32-30 game at the break.
Two early scores for Simmons and one for Glenn gave Rutgers-Newark a 36-32 lead 2:17 into the second half, and MSU came back with seven in a row to go up three 1:13 later. Baskets for Ashby and Glenn pushed Rutgers-Newark back in front with 5:44 to play in the third (40-39), but a Curtis three-pointer with 93 seconds left in the quarter put MSU back up by the same margin (four) it would take into the fourth (53-49).
Rutgers-Newark shot 42.2 percent from the field, 2-for-11 from long range and 5-for-12 at the line. MSU shot 45.2 percent from the floor, 8-for-22 from distance and 7-for-11 at the stripe, and the Red Hawks also held a commanding 48-29 edge on the glass. The game featured seven lead changes and four ties, with MSU holding a 14-4 margin in assists and a 17-4 edge in second-chance points. Rutgers-Newark had 6-of-8 steals in the game, scoring 12 points off 15 Red Hawk turnovers.
Junior Katie Sire led Montclair State with 19 points and 12 rebounds as a total of four Red Hawks were in double figures.
Despite the tough loss, Rutgers-Newark made major strides in 2016-17, doubling its regular-season conference wins total from four to eight, and advancing to the NJAC final for the second time in program history as the No. 6 seed.
Fans should continue to check for the latest on Rutgers-Newark women's basketball and possible postseason honors.