Women's Basketball Takes Down NJCU, 61-49

Montclair, NJ (2/20/08) – Senior forward Jessica Garrabrant (Denville, NJ / Morris Knolls) posted her fifth double-double of the season with 18 points and 12 rebounds as Montclair State got the key baskets when it needed it in the second half to hold off New Jersey City University, 61-49 in NJAC Women’s Basketball action at Panzer Gymnasium on Wednesday evening.

Sophomore forward Catherine Cristino (Farmingdale, NJ / Colts Neck) added 12 points, six rebounds and four blocks as the Red Hawks moved to 15-9 overall and 7-5 in the NJAC North Division. The victory also gave MSU a season-sweep of the series with the Gothic Knights. Montclair State has now won nine straight against NJCU and leads the series between the teams, 40-3.

Freshman guard Angela Fitzgerald (Jersey City, NJ / Marist) finished with 12 points for the Gothic Knights, who end their season at 8-17 overall, 3-10 in the NJAC North. Senior guard Vanessa Vargas Espinosa (Union City, NJ / Emerson) had nine points as she surpassed the 1,000-point plateau for her career. Vargas, who played her first three seasons at Ramapo (2002-05), scored on a layup with 4:47 to play to give her 1,001 points in her four-years.

Montclair never trailed in the contest and built a 26-8 lead in the first half with just under seven minutes to play before settling for a 12-point lead at halftime. Garrabrant had 14 of her points in the opening period as MSU went into the locker room up 33-21.

In the second half, NJCU chipped away at the deficit going on a 12-2 run to begin the second half.  Four different players scored in the spurt, including the last four by Tania Greenleaf (Bordentown, NJ / Columbia) as MSU led by just two, 35-33 with 15:01 left.  But Montclair’s Jamilee Pflug (Clark, NJ / Arthur L. Johnson) and Kisandra Ayanbeku (Burlington, MA / Randolph) each scored to restore the lead to 41-33 with 12:19 to go.

The Gothic Knights would get back within four at 43-39 with 7:42 to play as Alaia Robinson (Irvington, NJ / Irvington) drove in for a layup, however the Red Hawks scored eight of the next 10 points, including back-to-back three-pointers from Cristino as MSU took a 51-41 advantage with 5:11 left. NJCU would only get as close as nine the rest of the way.

Jessica Horan (West Haverstraw, NY / North Rockland) finished with eight points while Cynthia Warrington (Villas, NJ / Lower Cape May Regional) added seven. The two along with Garrabrant were honored before the game on Senior Night. Jackie Berry (Tuckerton, NJ / Pinelands Regional) had six points, five rebounds, four assists and four steals.

Espinoza added a team-best 10 rebounds while Carolina Garcia (Plainfield, NJ / Franklin), Greenleaf and Natashia Clackley (Long Branch, NJ / Long Branch) each had eight points for the Gothic Knights. Fitzgerald also had eight rebounds.

Montclair State closes out its regular season on Saturday, February 23 as the Red Hawks travel to Mahwah, NJ to face Ramapo College in a 1:00 pm NJAC contest at the Bradley Center. A win by MSU coupled with a Rutgers-Newark loss would give the Red Hawks the No. 2 seed out of the North Division and a first-round home game in the NJAC Tournament, which gets underway on Monday, February 25.