Gwynedd Valley, PA (12/17/11) – Sophomore guard Theresa Towns (Morristown, NJ / Morristown) scored 14 points leading five players in double figures as Montclair State held off a furious comeback in the second half by Gwynedd-Mercy for a 77-76 victory at the Griffin Center on Saturday.
Junior forward Taylor Jeffers (Franklin, NJ / Franklin) and senior Jaime Ericson (Flemington, NJ / Hunterdon Central) each had 13 points as the Red Hawks won their third straight and moved back over the .500 mark at 5-4.
Montclair State quickly grabbed a 9-1 lead in the first four minutes as Ericson drained a three-pointer from the right side for the game's first points and Jeffers put in two buckets. Another three-pointer by Ericson with 14:37 left pushed the lead to 15-4 and Towns' layup with just over nine minutes to go before halftime gave MSU a 27-10 advantage.
Ericson would finishwith 10 points in the first half, including a second three-pointer with 3:19 left gave the Red Hawks their largest lead of the game at 39-16 as Montclair, which shot 56 percent (20-of-36) from the field led 45-27 at the break.
In the second half, the Griffins chipped away at the lead and got the deficit under double digits with 10:13 to play as Natasha Matthews hit a layup to make the score 63-52. Janitza Aquino (Kearny, NJ / Kearny) hit a three-pointer to boost Montclair's lead back to 69-43 with 6:40 remaining, however Gwynedd-Mercy would make another run.
Matthews closed the gap to 70-66 with 2:51 to play on a layup and two foul shots by Jordan Dominic made it a 73-72 contest with 36 seconds left. Sara Farrell (Marlton, NJ / Cherokee) pushed the lead to 75-72 on a layup the next trip down the floor, but that was answered by Shea Wassel, who hit twice from the charity strip with 14 ticks remaining for a 75-74 MSU lead.
Michelle Montagna (New Providence, NJ / New Providence) made two at the line to give Montclair a 77-74 advantage with seven seconds left however the Red Hawks fouled and Bryn Cotetta connected on two attempts at the other end to make the score 77-76 with four seconds left.
MSU would miss two free throws with three seconds left and the Griffins were able to get the rebound. But Gwynedd-Mercy was never able to get off a shot as the Red Hawks escaped with the one-point victory.
Melissa Tobie (Elizabeth, NJ / Roselle Catholic) added 12 points with Aquino finishing with 10 for Montclair State as the Red Hawks shot 52 percent (29-of-56) from the field for the game. Tobie led all rebounders with seven while Jeffers grabbed six. Towns registered four assists and four steals with Jenny Malone (North Plainfield, NJ / Roselle Catholic) handing out a team-best five assists.
Montclair State returns to action on Monday, December 19 as they host Frostburg State at the Panzer Athletic Center beginning at 7:00 pm. It will be the first meeting between the schools since the 1997-98 campaign when the Bobcats posted a 62-54 win at home. Montclair lasted hosted Frostburg at the Panzer Athletic Center in 1991 when it recorded a 62-52 win in the championship game of the Dial Classic.