Montclair St. holds on to beat Scranton, advances to first quarterfinals
MADISON, N.J. -- Junior forward Melissa Tobie posted a double-double with games highs of 27 points and 13 rebounds as Montclair State advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III championship for the first time in program history with an 82-77 win against Scranton at FDU-Florham's Ferguson Center on Friday evening.
Freshman guard Rachael Krauss came off the bench and scored 14 points, including four 3-point field goals as MSU (28-2), winners of 14 in a row are now one step away from the semifinals. Montclair will face host and undefeated FDU-Florham (30-0) in an All-New Jersey sectional final on Saturday with the winner advancing to the NCAA semifinals next weekend in Stevens Point, Wis.
FDU-Florham defeated Baldwin Wallace 66-42 in the other Sectional semifinal on Friday evening.
The victory is the furthest advancement in the NCAA tournament for Montclair State, which is making its fifth appearance overall and second in a row. Last year, the Red Hawks reached the same round before falling to Christopher Newport. It was the only loss of the season in a 29-1 campaign.
Facing the Lady Royals (26-4) for the second time this season, MSU grabbed an early lead before a layup by Scranton's Alison Sweeney made the score 7-6 inside 17 minutes remaining. Junior guard Jenny Malone responded with 3-pointer to give the Red Hawks the lead which later turned into a 21-10 advantage following a 15-3 run that was capped off by Krauss' jumper with 11:09 left in the opening half.
Scranton cut the lead back to six points, 21-15, however Krauss hit from behind the arc and Janitza Aquino connected twice from the line to boost the lead back to double digits with 8:48 to play. The Royals dipped the deficit to nine with 5:24 left but back-to-back buckets from Malone and Nicosia Henry gave Montclair State a 13-point lead which turned into a 38-28 advantage at the half.
In the second half, Sarah Payonk scored on a layup to bring the Royals within 38-30 before the Red Hawks ripped off a 10-0 run in a two-minute span. Sophomore Kayla Ceballos bookended the run with a jumper and a 3-pointer as the MSU lead widened to 48-30 with 17:11 to play.
Tobie scored on a layup and Krauss drilled a 3-pointer after Scranton cut the lead back to 10 points making the score 57-42. Montclair State would maintain the advantage and led 78-65 with 3:05 left before the Royals made one last charge pulling within 80-75 with 35 seconds left. Aquino hit once from the line with 25 ticks and after a Scranton miss, Tobie hit one foul shot with seven seconds remaining to seal the win for Montclair State.
Tobie added four assists, two blocks and four steals while Aquino chipped in with 12 points, five assists and four steals. Malone had nine points and four steals with Henry collecting nine points, six rebounds and three steals.
Montclair State also capitalized on Scranton's 23 turnovers in the game as the Red Hawks scored 32 points off those miscues.
The Red Hawks won the first meeting between the teams this season 86-75 in the opening round of the Gwynedd Mercy Tip-Off Tournament in November.