MONTCLAIR, NJ – The TCNJ women’s basketball team overcame a slow, trailing offensive start by as little as six in the fourth quarter, but the Lions couldn’t overcome Montclair State on Saturday afternoon, losing 53-39.
TCNJ’s slow offensive start was mitigated by the team’s strong defensive performance in the first quarter. While TCNJ shot just 20 percent (3 for 15) in the first quarter, the Lions limited Montclair to just 28.6 percent (4 for 14). MSU took a 9-6 lead late in the quarter.
In the second quarter, TCNJ didn’t get their first points for more than five minutes. Even so, the strong defensive effort of the TCNJ meant that Jezlyn Cross sweater Emily Toy put the Lions behind, 14-8. The Lions trailed by no less than 10 in the second quarter, but a three-pointer behind by Nina Branchizio and a lay-up of Sidney Blum at the buzzer had the Lions deficit at 26-18 at halftime.
The TCNJ offense lit up in the third quarter, fueled mostly by Julia Setaro. She scored the first seven points in a 9-0 TCNJ run. After a three-pointer and a lay-up, Setaro scored on a jumper from Sidney Blum to make 33-30 Montclair with 1:35 to go in the period. Mollie Brueggemeier followed by a driving layup of his own, and the Lions found themselves trailing by just one point.
Montclair extended the lead to nine early in the fourth, but a Morgan Heller three points and a layup had it at 43-37 with 6:12 to go. Heller was the team’s top scorer, scoring 11 points on 5 of 9 shooting. She also finished with six rebounds, one behind Blum for the team lead. TCNJ passed Montclair, 37-33.
It was as close as TCNJ would get, however, as Montclair scored the next 10 points of the game to push their lead into double digits.
The Lions witnessed 14 of their 17 baskets, led by Setaro’s four. TCNJ also beat Montclair, 14-6, in points on turnovers.
Lions host Rutgers-Camden Wednesday at 6 p.m.