Women's Basketball Clipped by Manhattanville

Purchase, NY (11/25/08) – Senior co-captain Olivia Nastasi (Cold Spring, N.Y.) led four Valiants in double figures with 16 points as the Manhattanville women’s basketball team earned a hard-fought 68-65 victory over Montclair State University in non-conference action on Tuesday night at Kennedy Gymnasium.

 Nastasi led Manhattanville with 16 points (4-of-7 shooting), thanks largely to a 6-of-9 effort from the free-throw line, but also had a game-high six assists, four rebounds and two steals. Sophomore Simona Gordon ( Cambridge, Mass.) tied a career-high with 13 points and added three assists and two steals, while senior co-captain Jess Delagrange ( Canton, Ohio) matched Gordon with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting.

Freshman guard Jaime Ericson ( Flemington, NJ / Hunterdon Central) posted a game-high 19 points along with six rebounds while junior Kisandra Ayanbeku ( Burlington, MA / Randolph) recorded a doubled-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds as the Red Hawks fell to 1-2 on the season.

Tuesday’s game was won late in the second half, as the score remained within one possession for almost the entire final 20 minutes. The lead changed 11 times in the second stanza and the half also saw seven ties, as neither team could shake the other.

The eighth and final tie of the half occurred with 2:02 left in the game after a layup by Ericson, but Nina Johnson ( White Plains, N.Y.) hit one of two free throws 18 seconds later to give the home team a one-point edge at 64-63. Ericson got the rebound of Johnson’s miss but promptly turned the ball over, and Gordon followed up with a key layup in traffic to put the Valiants up by three.

The Manhattanville defense then picked up, limiting the Red Hawks to only a pair of free throws over the final 1:06. Johnson recorded an important block on Jackie Berry (Tuckerton, NJ / Pinelands Regional) to keep the score 68-65, and a last-second three-pointer by Berry came up short and rescued the Valiants from three missed free throws in the final 26 seconds.

The game was made interesting due largely to both team’s difficulties at the free-throw line. Manhattanville finished at 52.9 percent (9-for-17) from the charity stripe, but Montclair State could not take advantage of its 27 free-throw attempts by making only 13 (48.1 percent), including a 6-for-16 showing in the crucial second half.

The Valiants actually shot better from the field than from the free-throw line in the second half, hitting 51.7 percent (15-of-27) shots from the floor but only 46.2 percent (6-of-13) from the line. Nastasi came up big for Manhattanville in the second stanza, scoring 12 of her 16 points and dishing out four of her six assists while playing all 20 minutes after intermission.

Montclair State began the game hot from the field, making eight of its first nine shots to jump out to an early 19-10 lead. The Valiants eventually heated up and the Red Hawks cooled down, however, as both teams hit 12 attempts from the field in the first half and MSU went into the break with a slim three-point lead.

Junior Catherine Cristino ( Farmingdale, NJ / Colts Neck) finished with 11 points and eight rebounds while Jamilee Pflug ( Clark, NJ / Arthur L. Johnson) collected nine points and five rebounds. Berry had three points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Red Hawks.

Montclair State (1-2, 0-0 NJAC) returns to action on Saturday, November 29, as it will co-host the Red Hawk/Pioneer Classic this weekend. MSU squares off against Stevens Tech at 1:00 pm followed by the William Paterson-Colby College contest at 3:00 pm.