Montclair, NJ – The Montclair State women's basketball season drew to a close on Saturday as the Red Hawks were knocked out of the NCAA Division III Women's Basketball Championship by UMass Dartmouth, 71-63 at the Panzer Athletic Center.
The Corsairs (24-5) rode a red-hot shooting first quarter to advance to next week's Sectional Tournament. Alicia Kutil posted a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds for UMass Dartmouth which will make at Sweet 16 appearance in its first NCAA Tournament appearance.
Junior Katie Sire finished with 14 points and six rebounds for Montclair State, which saw its eight-game winning streak snapped. The Red Hawks closed out the year at 26-3 winning 20 or more games for the fifth consecutive season, including 25-plus victories for the fourth time during that span. MSU was appearing in its fifth NCAA Division III Tournament and eighth overall.
It was a tale of two different shooting results for the team in the opening period. UMass Dartmouth shot 71 percent from the floor, connecting on 10-of-14 attempts. Meanwhile the Red Hawks struggled making just 4-of-19 (21 percent), three of which came Sage Bennett, whose scored seven straight MSU points for a 9-6 advantage with six minutes left in the opening period.
Two free throws from Katie Tobie gave Montclair an 11-10 however Leah Douty hit a jumper to put the Corsairs in front while igniting a 13-2 run to close out the period. The run was capped off by a Kailyn Milligan buzzer-beating floater as UMass Dartmouth led 23-13.
Rachel McCarron got the advantage into double digits at 25-15 in the second quarter and the lead got to 31-18 after Chelsea Houilhan hit from short range. Montclair's Erica Snow hit a three to cut the lead back to nine but McCarron scored with seven ticks giving the Coasairs a 35-24 lead at the break.
UMass Dartmouth would get up as many as 14 points (44-30) with 5:16 to go in the third before Montclair State cut that back to five points with a 12-3 run to close out the quarter. Sire had six points with Tobie scoring a layup off the break bringing the Red Hawks within 47-42 heading into the fourth.
A Douty layup early in the fourth got the lead back to nine points for the Corsairs but the Red Hawks countered with a seven-point run that made the score 51-49 with seven minutes to play after Bennett hit in the paint. Corsairs guard Danyel Gonzalez ended the MSU run with a layup and McCarron added another bucket with 4:45 to go giving UMass Dartmouth a 55-49 advantage.
Zoe Curtis drained a three and Taylor Harmon muscled in for a layup getting MSU within 56-54 however Houlihan hit twice from the line and McCarron scored with 2:52 left restoring the lead to 60-54. Douty added a free throw and a basket by Kutil widened the lead to 63-54 with 1:26 remaining.
Tobie finished with 13 points and five assists for Montclair State while Bennett tallied 11 along with two rebounds and two assists in her final contest for the Red Hawks. Curtis added seven points and eight rebounds. Montclair finished the game 27-of-63 (37 percent) from the field and connected on just 6-of-25 attempts (24 percent) from three-point range.