Montclair, N.J. (2/18/12) - Freshman forward Melissa Tobie (Elizabeth, N.J./Roselle Catholic) scored a game-high 20 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead Montclair State University to a 76-67 victory over Richard Stockton College in the first round of the New Jersey Athletic Conference Tournament Saturday afternoon at the Panzer Athletic Center.
Montclair State, the second seed in the NJAC North Division, posted its fourth straight win and its 12th in its last 13 games as it improves its overall record to 19-7. This is MSU’s ninth consecutive appearance in the conference tournament and the fourth time in the last five years that it has advanced past the first round. It is also the third straight year that the Red Hawks have defeated Richard Stockton in the first round of the NJAC Tournament.
Tobie, third in the conference in scoring and a seven-time
Rookie of the Week honoree, collected her third double-double
performance and eighth 20-plus point outing of the season.
In a game that saw five ties and 10 lead changes, the outcome was still up for grabs with 11 and a half minutes to play before Montclair State finally took control of the contest. Trailing 50-49 with 11:39 remaining, the Red Hawks scored the next seven points and 11 of the next 13 to take a 60-52 lead with 9:10 left. Sophomore guard Theresa Towns (Morristown, N.J./Morristown), who had 17 points and four steals, scored six of her 15 second-half points in the scoring run.
Richard Stockton, the third seed in the NJAC South Division, came back to narrow the gap to four points at 60-56 at the 7:31 mark. But the Ospreys, who finished the year with a 15-12 record, never got any closer.
MSU then increased its margin to 10 points, the biggest in the game, at 68-58 with 5:07 to go before cruising down the stretch for the win.
In the first half, Montclair State came out strong, hitting its first six shots from the field and jumped out to a quick 13-6 lead with 17:14 remaining. But the Red Hawks went cold, making just six of their next 23 shots, enabling Richard Stockton to rally back. Down 24-19, the Ospreys went on a 10-3 run to take their first lead of the contest at 29-27 with 3:01 left in the period. The lead changed hands three more times down the stretch with junior forward Colleen Kelly (Rockaway, N.J./Morris Hills) hitting a jumper with 57 seconds to play to give Montclair State a 34-33 edge at the intermission.
Junior guard-forward Che’Na Thompson (Salem, N.J./Salem) topped Richard Stockton, which saw all five of its starters reach double figures. Thompson scored 14 points, all in the first half, and grabbed 10 rebounds while senior center LaTonya Oliver (West Berlin, N.J./Overbrook) and sophomore forward Lauren Alwan (Winslow, N.J./Timber Creek) also turned in double-double efforts with 13 points and 12 rebounds and 10 points and 13 rebounds, respectively. Senior guard Allyah Nelson (Pleasantville, N.J./St. Joseph) scored all 12 of her points in the second half and freshman guard Brittany Muniz (Cherry Hill, N.J./Cherry Hill East) added 10 points for the Ospreys.
Senior guard Jaime Ericson (Flemington, N.J./Hunterdon Central), currently 12th on the MSU all-time scoring list with 1,131, scored 18 points, include 10 in the second half.
Montclair State will now travel to play Kean (21-7), the top seed in the conference’s South Division, in the Semifinals of the NJAC Tournament on Tuesday at 7 pm. It will be the seventh time that the Red Hawks have met the Cougars in the tournament and third time in the last four years.