Montclair State University Rolls Past Regis (MA) in First Round of NCAA Division III Tournament, 87-47, as MSU Moves on to Second Round

3/1/2013 7:41:00 PM

Box Score

Annville, PA – Sophomore forward Melissa Tobie (Elizabeth, NJ, Roselle Catholic) collected a game-high 17 points as Montclair State put the first 10 points on the board and never looked back in a 87-47 victory over Regis College (MA) in the first round of the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Championship at Lebanon Valley College on Friday evening.

The Red Hawks, making their first NCAA appearance in 18 years, will face host Lebanon Valley in the second round on Saturday, March 2 at 6:00 pm. THe Dutchwomen (24-4) defeated Baruch College, 59-53 in the other first-round contest. The winner of the contest advances to next week’s Sectional Tournament.

All five starters finished in double figures for NJAC champion Montclair as it improved to 28-0 and remained one of two unbeaten teams in the nation. MSU, which earned its first NCAA Tournament bid since 1995, got 16 points from NJAC Rookie of the Year Shalette Brown (Somerset, NJ, Franklin Township) and 14 by sophomore guard Janitza Aquino (Kearny, NJ, Kearny). Senior forward Taylor Jeffers (Franklin Township, NJ, Franklin) also contributed 14 points while junior Nicosia Henry (Bolingbrook, IL, Bolingbrook) registered a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. It is the second time this season the Montclair State had all five players reach double figures in the same game as it also occurred in the season opener against Salisbury in November.

Regis (23-5), also making its first NCAA appearance since 1995, entered the game with the nation’s best scoring defense at 42.9 points per game however the Red Hawks more than doubled that total as they snapped the Pride’s 17-game winning streak. It was just the second time the two teams have met as Montclair recorded a 73-66 win in the opening round of the Eastern Connecticut Tip-Off Tournament last season.

Brown put the Red Hawks on the board with a layup 54 seconds into the contest and then it was the MSU defense taking over as it forced two straight turnovers turning those into layups by Henry and Brown for a 6-0 lead 1:09 in. Tobie, the NJAC Player of the Year, added a layup on the next Montclair possession then stole the ensuing inbounds that turned into a layup by Aquino giving Montclair State a 10-point lead with 17:43 left. Regis would get the deficit back within double digits several times over the next eight minutes, the last coming with 9:21 to go as Sabree Rodriguez hits twice from the foul line to make the score 23-15.

Aquino hit from behind arc and added a layup sparking an 11-1 run by MSU as the lead increased to 34-16 with 7:01 to play on two free throws by Henry. Jeffers, who had nine first-half points scored the final four of the opening period as Montclair State went into the locker room with a 50-25 advantage. The Red Hawks shot 54 percent (20-of-37) from floor and forced 14 turnovers which produced 18 points.

In the second half, the Red Hawks continued their dominance with a 13-3 run led by Tobie who had five in the spurt as MSU built its largest lead of the contest at 63-28 with 15:54 remaining.

The Pride, whose previous high in points allowed was 73 by Tufts early in the year, made a small run to trim the lead back to 66-44 with 8:44 to go but Tobie, Brown, Henry and Jeffers each scored in an 8-0 run as Montclair State restored the lead to 75-44 with just under five minutes remaining.

MSU held a huge advantage on the boards 44-28, including 21 on the offensive glass. Tobie, who added four steals and four blocks, had six rebounds while Brown added five along with three steals. The Red Hawks, who lead the nation in steals per game (18.1), had 16 in the contest.

Montclair State, which has won every game this season by double-digits, posted its fourth 40-point game this season. The Red Hawks entered the tournament ranked No. 1 in Division III in scoring margin at 28.4 points per game.

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