WB MAAC Tournament

Women’s Basketball Heads to MAAC Tournament on High Note

The women’s basketball team defeated Niagara 68-62 Sunday afternoon on Senior Day at the OceanFirst Bank Center.

Freshman guard Kayla Shaw led the Hawks in scoring with 14 points, and senior guard Helena Kurt had 12. Senior center Christina Mitchell added nine points and 14 rebounds.

Both teams traded baskets throughout the first quarter, as the score was 6-6 at the first media timeout. Niagara took an 11-9 lead with 3:21 remaining in the first, but Monmouth responded with a 7-0 run to close the quarter strong. The run included five points from freshman forward Alexa Middleton, as the score was 16-11 after ten minutes.

The Hawks continued their strong play into the second quarter, as a three from senior guard Tyese Purvis gave the Hawks a double-digit lead, 24-13. Mitchell followed up with a layup to give the Hawks their largest lead of the half, at 13 points. Niagara hit a few shots to stay in the game, as the two teams went into halftime with the score 37-26 in favor of the Hawks.

The Purple Eagles scored five straight points to open up the second half, forcing Monmouth to take a timeout. The Hawks opened their lead back to 10 with 7:09 remaining in the third, but once again Niagara scored five straight, making the score 43-38 with 5:32 remaining in the third. A Shaw three opened the game back up, as the Hawks finished the quarter strong, with the score being 51-43 after thirty minutes of play.

Niagara opened the fourth on a strong 6-0 run to make it a two-point game, 51-49, with 7:27 remaining in the game. Monmouth received a layup from Shaw, a three from freshman guard Rosa Graham, and another three from Shaw to open a 59-51 lead halfway through the quarter. The Purple Eagles made things close once again, as they cut the game to 60-56 with 2:29 remaining. Kurt, on Senior Day, connected on a deep three-point shot with 1:07 remaining to extend the lead to seven. The Hawks never looked back from there, as Kurt sank three free throws late to make the final score 68-62.

“Christina, Helena, and Tyese are kind of my first class,” Monmouth Head Coach Jenny Palmateer said after the game. “It’s tough, I’m not going to lie. It was a very emotional Senior Day, and I hope we can cap it off by playing well in the conference tournament.”

“My teammates mean everything to me,” Mitchell said, “I’m not from New Jersey so they are my family away from home. They mean everything to me.”

For the game, the Hawks shot 35 percent from the field and 29 percent from three. The Monmouth bench outscored its opponent for the 27th time in the 29 games they have played this season, edging Niagara 27-5 in the category.

The victory also marked the second-consecutive win for the Hawks, who defeated Manhattan 63-50 Friday night. In that game, Shaw broke the program record for most three-point shots made in a single season, hitting her 81st on the season. She was named MAAC Rookie of the Week and to the MAAC All-Rookie Team on Monday afternoon. She finished with five triples in the game, while leading the Hawks with 18 points.

“We know how important it is to go into the MAAC Tournament with some confidence,” Palmateer said. “We had multiple players that have had strong games in the last two. I think we’re a team that can really make a run in the tournament, especially since we’re coming into the tournament on a high. I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can do.”

Monmouth finished its season with an overall record of 14-15, with a mark 9-11 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) play. They enter the conference tournament as the seven seed, as they will play the 10 seed Manhattan on Thursday morning. Tip is slated for 11:30 a.m. from the Times Union Center in Albany, NY, and the game can be found on WMCX 88.9 FM.