Montclair, N.J. (2/16/11) – Senior forward Kisandra Ayanbeku (Brockton, Mass./Randolph) scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead Montclair State University to an all-important 77-53 victory over New Jersey City in a New Jersey Athletic Conference contest on “Senior Night” at the Panzer Athletic Center Wednesday evening.
The win by Montclair State, which upped its record to 13-12 on the season and 6-7 in the NJAC, coupled with a 52-43 loss by Ramapo College to William Paterson University, earned the Red Hawks a berth in the NJAC playoffs.
After giving up the opening basket, MSU scored the next 11 straight points and never trailed the rest the game.
New Jersey City (5-20, 0-13 NJAC), which ended its season on a four-game losing streak, did not give up and rallied back on a couple of occasions. The Gothic Knights, who suffered a 36-point loss to the Red Hawks on Monday, came back to close the deficit to one point at 17-16 with 7:25 to play in the first half. But Montclair State then finished the opening period with a 16-6 run to go up 31-22 at halftime.
NJCU climbed back into the game at the start of the second half. The Gothic Knights outscored the Red Hawks 14-7 to cut the margin to two at 38-36 with 15:01 to play.
Montclair State then broke the game open behind Ayanbeku and reserve freshman guard Sara Kelley (Newtown, Conn./Newtown) . Ayanbeku, the team’s lone senior, scored 13 of her game-high point total in the second half on her way to a third straight and 12th double-double performance of the season and the 36th of her career. Kelley scored all 18 of her points in the second stanza, including 13 points as the Red Hawks built a 20-point bulge at 70-50 with just 2:32 left.
Sophomore guard Nidia Carmona (Elizabeth, N.J./Elizabeth) topped New Jersey City with 17 points with sophomore forward Maxine Kaminski (Kearny, N.J./Kearny) contributed 14 points. Sophomore guard Gabrielle Rivera (Teaneck, N,J./Saint Joseph of the Palisades had a team-high 10 rebounds for the Gothic Knights.
Junior guard Jaime Ericson (Flemington, N.J./Hunterdon Central) and sophomore forward Taylor Jeffers (Franklin Township, N.J./Franklin) also reached double digits, adding 10 points apiece for MSU.
Montclair State, the third seed in the NJAC North Division, will now travel to play Richard Stockton College, the second seed in NJAC South Division, on Saturday at 1 pm in the opening round of the NJAC playoffs. The winner advances to the semifinals on Wednesday, February 23 against No. 21 William Paterson.