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Women’s Basketball cap their 2023-24 season at WNIT

The Hawks clinched their 13th straight road win to stand in third for the longest road win streak in the country. After Monmouth fell short by just two points in the CAA quarterfinals on Mar. 15 against Drexel, the Hawks picked up where they left off, securing their 22nd win of the season against Buffalo in the first round of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament.

The Hawks took control early on in the first quarter to gain a quick advantage when center #24 Belle Kranbuhl had a bucket to put the Hawks up three, 7-4, at 6:11. Buffalo took a 10-0 run shortly after to lead 14-7 going into the second quarter. The second quarter saw efforts on both sides of the floor, and Buffalo led 19-15 with 6:25 until the half. Guard #34 Kaci Donovan hit a pair of free throws, which gave Monmouth the momentum they needed to go on an 18-2 run and, ultimately, a 12-point advantage for the Hawks, 33-21, at the break.

Buffalo cut the Hawks’ lead down to eight after the break, but four points from forward #2 Taisha Exanor pushed Monmouth’s lead back to 12, 39-27, with 4:37 left in the period. Both Buffalo and Monmouth exchanged baskets, and Monmouth capped the third quarter 43-35.

Monmouth took its largest lead of the game, 54-39, to begin the fourth quarter on an 11-4 run. Exanor added to her total for the day with eight points in that stretch for Monmouth.

In the final 45 seconds, guard #20 Jania Hall and guard #3 Sandrine Clesca combined to go six-for-six from the free throw line to finalize the game 68-58. Monmouth took advantage of their opportunities from the free throw line in the contest shooting 20-for-22.

Monmouth shot 57.1% in just the fourth quarter to hold Buffalo and claim the win 68-58.
This win sent Monmouth to face Duquesne for the second round of the WNIT on Mar. 25, where they fell short four points in overtime.

With a close contest for the first three quarters, it was not until the fourth quarter that Monmouth took their largest lead, 59-51, with efforts from forward #32 Kayla Richardson and Vanderhoop. Lauren Wasylson for the Dukes closed out the fourth quarter with nine points and tied the game 60-60.

Duquesne got a quick jump start in overtime, scoring the first three of the five points to put them up 65-62 with 3:20 left on the clock. The last 42 seconds of the stanza were stretched out to what seemed like longer as Donovan went 1-of-2 from the foul line, Hall sank a jumper that tied the game, and Amaya Hamilton for the Dukes got an offensive rebound with 21 seconds left. The Hawks had one more chance to take the lead back, but a foul called on Monmouth led to two made free throws from Wasylson that secured the final score 69-65 in favor of Duquesne.

Despite the loss, the Hawks continued to show their gumption both offensively and defensively.
Vanderhoop led the Hawks with a game-high 18 points, as Hall had another impressive game where she finished with 16 points, her 16th game this season in double figures.

On the defensive side of things, Kranbuhl led the efforts once again, with a pair of blocks and pulling down 10 rebounds. Her two blocks added to her season total of 78. Kranbuhl ranks ninth in the CAA single-season history.

The Hawks extended their season total in blocks to 187, six of those from the matchup against Duquesne. This placed Monmouth in seventh in single-season history in the CAA in blocks.

According to the Monmouth Athletics Website, “I am incredibly proud of this record shattering team, my road warriors. Thank you to our seniors and everyone who has supported us along the way. Although this one will hurt for a while, the growth we’ve made as a program is exciting and I look forward to our very, very bright future.”