MONTCLAIR, N.J. – The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth earned the program's first victory over a ranked opponent at the most opportune of times on Saturday, dealing No. 11/12 Montclair State a 71-63 loss in the Second Round of the NCAA Division III Tournament to advance to the Sweet 16. The Corsairs, now 24-5 overall, move on to face SUNY New Paltz on Friday.
Score: UMass Dartmouth 71, Montclair State 63
Records: UMass Dartmouth (24-5) | Montclair State (26-3)
How it Happened
Corsair junior Alicia Kutil (Franklin, Mass.) rose to the occasion, confounding the Red Hawk post players for a game-high 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting with 10 rebounds. Sophomore Nakira Examond (New Bedford, Mass.) and junior Leah Douty (Framingham, Mass.) both chipped in 13 points, and senior Rachel McCarron (Groton, Mass.) rounded out four starters in double-figures with 12 points.
For MSU, New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Player of the Year Katie Sire (Hazlet, N.J.) was held to a team-high 14 points on 7-of-23 shooting, with fellow NJAC All-Conference selection Kate Tobie (Elizabeth, N.J.) totaling 13 points.
A brief back-and-forth to start the contest quickly evolved into a shooting clinic for UMass Dartmouth, which converted on 10-of-14 (71 percent) from the field over the first 10 minutes while MSU struggled to find the net. For her part, Kutil opened the game 5-of-5 from the field, scoring four-straight points to put her team up five seven minutes in. Over the last two and a half minutes of the quarter, the Corsairs generated a quick 7-0 run, capped by a buzzer-beating runner by sophomore Kailyn Milligan (Lakeville, Mass.) to go up 23-13.
UMass Dartmouth's sharpshooting and the Red Hawks' offensive struggles continued into the second. Fast-break buckets from junior Chelsea Houlihan (Wolcott, Conn.) and Douty stretched the Corsair advantage to 13 midway through before MSU was able to sink a pair of shots. After Red Hawk junior Erica Snow (Seneca, N.J.) secured just the third 3-pointer for usually deadly MSU near the end of the half, McCarron hit a layup to keep UMass Dartmouth's advantage at double-digits. The Corsairs headed into the intermission with a 35-24 lead.
The Red Hawks would never take back the lead despite dialing up the pressure throughout the second half. Following an Examond layup to push the lead to 14, MSU began to find a tempo. Sire brought the hosts back within single-digits at 2:32, and traded layups with Tobie to close the quarter down only five points.
MSU's press jarred the Corsairs in the fourth and allowed Sage Bennett (Sicklerville, N.J.) to put the Red Hawks within a possession at 7:02. Collectively, the Corsairs battled through the pressure, pushing the lead back to seven, before the Red Hawks again cut within two with four minutes left. Down the stretch, it was the Corsairs' free throw performance that kept MSU at bay, as they went a perfect 6-for-6 in the final minute before Examond drove in the final dagger with a fast-break layup.
Inside the Numbers
- Sharpshooting Montclair State, which sunk 10 3-pointers against Westfield State on Friday, struggled from beyond the arc all game, going just 6-of-25 on the full 40 minutes. The Red Hawks saw just four free-throw attempts on the contest.
- Conversely, UMass Dartmouth posted its highest shooting percentage in a quarter on the season during the first and its highest free-throw percentage since December, sinking 18-of-21 (85 percent) from the charity stripe.
- UMass Dartmouth finished 50 percent (26-of-52) from the field for the game, the team's highest collective percentage since Jan. 14, countering MSU's 27-of-73 (37 percent) performance. The Corsairs rise to 18-0 on the season when shooting above 40 percent.
- The Corsairs stymied the taller Red Hawks on the boards for the game, 44-29, and outperformed MSU 34-22 on points in the paint.
- Individually, Examond extends her double-digit point total streak to 20 games and Kutil gathers her sixth double-double on the season.
UMass Dartmouth's tournament journey continues next Friday at 6 p.m. in the Sweet 16 at Amherst College. The Corsairs will definitely face off with SUNY New Paltz, the conference champions from the State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC). The Hawks are 20-8 overall and knocked off two Division III regional powers this weekend in No. 19 Bowdoin and Ithaca.