Women's Basketball Gets Big Win in Season Opener Against Scranton, 57-55

Box Score

Montclair, NJ (11/15/11) – Sophomore guard Theresa Towns (Morristown, NJ / Morristown) scored off an offensive rebound with 19.5 seconds remaining as Montclair State slipped past University of Scranton, 57-55 in the season opener for both teams at the Panzer Athletic Center on Tuesday evening.

Towns had a game-high 20 points while freshman Melissa Tobie (Elizabeth, NJ / Roselle Catholic) added 16 and nine rebounds in her collegiate debut as the Red Hawks won their season opener for the first time since 2008 and defeated the Lady Royals for only the second time in eight meetings. Montclair won the first meeting back in 1990 with a 57-39 win in the Dial Classic Championship Game.

Junior guard Katherine Torto (Binghamton, NY/Seton Central Catholic) had 12 points and Alison Sweeney (Wall, NJ / St. Rose) 11 for Scranton (0-1), which battled back from an eight-point deficit in the  second half.

The Red Hawks managed to score the most important basket in a final seven minutes which featured five ties and five lead changes. After Tobie put MSU up 44-41, Erin Boggan (Danbury, CT / Danbury) scored four straight points to regain the lead for Scranton with 6:32 to play.

Taylor Pallotta (Dunmore, PA / Dunmore) hit two free throws with 3:14 to go as Scranton went back in front 51-49 however Montclair State scored the next four points as Tobie and Towns each converted layups, around another Scranton basket, the latter score with 1:51 to play as the score was knotted at 53-53.

After a Lady Royal turnover, Montclair missed two attempts, but each time got the rebound, the second by Towns with 1:12 left. Off the carom, Towns was fouled and went to line making both ends as Montclair led 55-53. On the next trip down after a miss, Lindsay Fluehr (Bensalem, PA / Nazareth Academy) was fouled, but had to leave the game due to injury. Christina Hiltunen (Brooklyn, NY / Bishop Kearney) came off the bench and hit both foul shots as the game was tied 55-55 with 48 seconds left.

Montclair State would run the clock down on its next possession. Scrambling for a shot, Jaime Ericson (Flemington, NJ / Hunterdon Central) put up a shot that bounced off the right side of the rim to Towns, who floated in the rebound for the go-ahead basket with 19.5 second remaining.

Scranton would get two looks at the end. First Torto put up a jumper that went off the mark. Tobie grabbed the rebound however as she tried to outlet the ball, the pass got away and picked up by Hiltunen with four seconds. Scranton called its final time out.

On the inbounds, Sweeney would get the ball in the paint but her short jumper bounced off the back of the rim as Montclair State came away with the two-point victory.

Towns added five rebounds, two assists and two steals for Montclair while Ericson collected eight points and seven rebounds. Colleen Kelly (Rockaway, NJ / Morris Hills) had six rebounds while freshman Janitza Aquino (Kearny, NJ / Kearny) handed out a team-best four assists.

For Scranton, Pallotta had six points and 10 rebounds with Boggan added six points and a game-high 14 boards. Hiltunen chipped in with nine points and five steals.

Neither team shot well in the game as Scranton was only 18-of-57 from the field (32 percent), including 2-of-13 from behind the arc. Montclair State shot 35 percent (22-of-63) and was 3-of-15 from three-point range. Both teams made up for the struggling shooting performance by going a combined 27-of-32 at the line as Scranton was 17-of-19 while MSU connected on 10-of-13 attempts.

Both teams return to action this weekend with tournament action. Montclair State faces Regis College in the Eastern Connecticut Tip-Off in Willimantic, CT on Saturday, November 19 at 7:30 pm. Scranton takes on Delaware Valley at 6:00 pm on Friday, November 18 in the Gwynedd-Mercy Tip-Off Tournament.