Monmouth NJ Rider Women’s Basketball Downs, 63-53

Guard Stella Clark took care of business on the outside, scoring a game-high 18 points, while Belle Kranbuhl dominated in the paint, scoring 12 points while grabbing seven rebounds and blocking seven shots, as Monmouth won a 63-53 win over Rider. at the OceanFirst Bank Center in West Long Branch on Thursday.

It was a rebound performance for the Hawks (10-6, 5-2) after Monday’s loss to Fairfield in a MAAC showdown for first place, winning for the third time in a four-game streak. in eight days.

Monmouth remains in second place heading into Saturday’s (2 p.m.) game in Manhattan.

Ariana Vanderhoop added 11 points, six rebounds and four assists for Monmouth, which beat Rider for the first time in four years.

“It felt like a rivalry game. It really was a battle,” said Monmouth coach Ginny Boggess. “I’m proud of the response after a slow start and how we kept our composure throughout the streak to ensure victory.”

Monmouth trailed 31-26 at halftime, before rallying in the third quarter to take a 44-41 lead, extending that advantage into the final 10 minutes.

For Clark, a grad transfer from Northeastern, it was her ninth double-digit game this season, with the Sea Girt native grabbing six rebounds and providing three assists.

Kaci Donovan added nine points for Monmouth, who claimed double-digit wins for the first time since the 2018-19 season, which was also the last time they won up to six games at home.

Monmouth's Lucy Thomas, who scored 14 points, leads against Fairfield in Monmouth's 61-54 loss at West Long Branch on January 24, 2022.

Monmouth women’s basketball falls to Fairfield, 61-54, in MAAC battle for top spot

WEST LONG BRANCH — No one said Monmouth’s women’s basketball rebuild would be without its nerve-wracking moments. And the toughest yet came Monday night against first-place Fairfield.

With a chance to challenge Fairfield atop the standings, it was Stags and MAAC preseason Player of the Year Lou Lopez-Seneghal who dashed Monmouth’s hopes at the OceanFirst Bank Center.

After leading each of the first three quarters, Monmouth, playing their third game in five days, were unable to hold off Fairfield in the final 10 minutes, falling 61-54, as Lopez-Senechal scored a high of 21 points.

“I thought tonight we looked like some of the best teams in this league,” first-year head coach Ginny Boggess said. “I am encouraged, I am disappointed. But a lot of things to build on.

Monmouth (9-6, 4-2 MAAC), picked to finish 10th in the league, could have moved up to first with the best winning percentage. The match was originally scheduled for January 1, but was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols at Monmouth.

Penn State transfer Kaci Donovan led Monmouth with 15 points, while senior forward Lucy Thomas added 14.

“I believe this team has a very bright future in the coming weeks,” Donovan said, “If we keep playing together, a lot of great things can happen.”

deer rally

After Monmouth took their final lead at 50-48 on a Thomas drive, Fairfield (11-6, 8-1) scored six straight games, including a steal and a layup from Janelle Brown, to move up 54 -40. A 15-footer from Ariana Vanderhoop made it a two-point game, but it was as close as Monmouth would get.

A Fairfield rally in the final quarter, led by Callie Cavanaugh, who finished with 14 points, put them atop 58-52 with 1:35 left. A Donovan field goal cut Fairfield’s lead to 58-54 with 1:22 remaining, before Lopez-Senechal, who has scored 20 or more goals in eight consecutive games, sank a free throw to make it a lead five points with 41.2 seconds left.

Monmouth was without starting guard Jen Louro (ankle) and top reserve Kayla Richardson (shoulder) for the third game in a row.

“We just didn’t make it,” Boggess said. “They outscored us 39-20 in the second and fourth quarters. Just fatigue and a lack of depth. Do not find excuses. Praise them, but it really hurts not having Jen and Kayla tonight.

Monmouth’s three-point cushion at half time quickly evaporated, as Fairfield scored the first six points of the third quarter, before Donovan hit an open 3-pointer from a Stella Clark kick to equalize things at 32-all. After Fairfield took a 37-36 lead, Monmouth raced 8-1 to take a six-point lead after three straight baskets from center Belle Kranbuhl.

“I know the result wasn’t what we wanted, but I feel like people stepped up and did what they had to do, and it’s coming for us,” Thomas said.

Flying start for the Hawks

The start couldn’t have been better for Monmouth, taking an 8-0 lead to just 3:13, with four different players scoring. Then Donovan drained a pair of 3-pointers, before Alexa Wallace hit one in the final minute, as Monmouth took a 19-9 lead after one quarter.

After a Thomas score, it was Donovan who scored on an early break to give Monmouth a 23-12 lead, before Sam Lewis and Andrea Hernangomez sank 3-pointers 25 seconds apart, Boggess calling a dead time

The Hawks scored four quick points, with Ariana Vanderhoop sinking a pair of free throws and Jania Hall scoring in front of the field on a Clark feed to go up 27-17. Then Lopez-Senechal hit a triple, before connecting on two free throws with 2:37 left in the second quarter to make it a five-point game.

The lead eventually narrowed to one, before Clark scored on a drive in the final minute to give Monmouth a 29-26 half-time lead.

Monmouth's Stella Clark, shown working against a Sacred Heart defender earlier this season, leads the Hawks in Monday night's clash with first-place Fairfield at the OceanFirst Bank Center in West Long Branch.

Match preview: Monmouth women’s basketball vs. Fairfield – 3 keys as MAAC showdown for first place looms

WEST LONG BRANCH — When the Monmouth women’s basketball team takes to the court at OceanFirst Bank Center Monday night (7 p.m./ESPN3), first place in MAAC will be within reach.

Take a moment to let that sink in.

The team chosen to finish 10th among league 11 teams in the pre-season poll is battling for the top spot in the standings against Fairfield.

And while there’s still a long way to go before the MAAC tournament kicks off in Atlantic City in early March, it’s just the latest reminder of how far the program has come in a short time under the leadership of the freshman coach Ginny Boggess.

Monmouth (9-5, 4-1) would have the best winning percentage in the league with a win, while one game ahead of Fairfield and Siena in the losing column. The Hawks have won two in a row and five of their last six, with three of their losses this season against high profile opponents.

This from a team that has won 11 games in total in the previous two seasons. A win would give Monmouth their first 5-1 start in the league since winning five of their first six NEC games in 1996-97.

Fairfield (10-6, 7-1) saw his seven-game winning streak snapped Saturday in a 69-56 loss at Siena.

At the top of the defensive to-do list is Lou Lopez-Senechal, the MAAC preseason player of the year who has scored 20 or more points in seven straight games. The senior 6-1 leads MAAC with 20.4 points per game, four points better than the second-highest average.

Monmouth is led by former Manasquan star Stella Clark, with the 5-4 point guard, a graduate transfer from Northeastern, averaging 12.1 points and 6.3 rebounds, both team highs. In his last seven games, Clark is averaging 16.1 points, 5.1 rebounds and 5.1 assists.

Sophomore guard Kaci Donovan is averaging 10 points over the past four games, while sophomore guard Ariana Vanderhoop is averaging 9.3 points over the same span.

Monmouth could be without starting guard Jen Louro (ankle) and guard Kayla Richardson (shoulder), a top reserve, each having missed the last two games.

Here are three keys to Monmouth. And check back here Monday night for full coverage of the Hawks’ first-place showdown:

1. Protect the ball

Fairfield is #1 in MAAC in turnover margin, forcing an average of four more turnovers than they hire. Monmouth struggled with turnovers, averaging 20.4 per game. In a tight match, the ability to take care of the ball could make the difference.

Monmouth have returned the ball more than 81 times in their last three games. Marist scored 31 points on turnovers in a win over the Hawks three games ago. If there’s one issue that can hold this team back, this is it.

2. Strong inside

Center Belle Kranbuhl needs to be a solid presence in the paint at both ends of the pitch for Monmouth. The 6-3 Kranbuhl is averaging 6.2 rebounds, while Monmouth is third in MAAC in rebounds.

In Fairfield’s loss to Siena, 6-1 forward Andrea Hernangomez, one of MAAC’s top rebounders, played just 14 minutes due to early fouls, limiting her to just two points and no rebound. Hitting the ball inside Kranbuhl and Lucy Thomas is key.

3. Homecourt Advantage

Playing well at home has been one of Boggess’ themes this season. Monmouth is 4-2 at home this season, after losing to nationally ranked Oregon State and St. Francis Brooklyn in overtime.

It’s the foundation from which all good teams can build, and winning a big game on campus would go a long way in making OFBC a dreaded place for opposing teams. A win would be Monmouth’s first three-game home winning streak since 2017-18.

COVID-19 Protocols

If you go to Monday night’s game, Monmouth requires all fans aged 18 and over to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test administered by a doctor’s office or clinic within 72 hours of the event. Home test kit results will not be accepted.

In addition, all spectators at the event must wear a mask that completely covers the participant’s nose and mouth. Face shields are not acceptable. This includes fans ages 2-17.

Earnest L. Veasey