POUGHKEEPSIE – The Vassar College Women’s Basketball overcame a one-point deficit midway through the third period and outscored Montclair State by eight in the final 10 minutes to pull away for an impressive 72-59 season opening victory Saturday evening.
The win marks the first season opening win for the Brewers since 2019 and marks the first as a head coach in the career of Meredith Mesaris.
Saturday’s win opens the Brewers’s season and 1-0 and gives them their first victory over the Red Hawks since a 63-58 triumph in Poughkeepsie on December 11, 2013.
A high scoring first quarter saw Vassar go 7-for-15 from the floor, including three triples, but saw itself trailing 20-19 after 10 minutes.
After falling behind by three on an Alexis Strollo bucket with 2:12 left in the opening stanza, Vassar got a three-pointer from Sierra McDermed that knotted the score at 19-19 with 42 seconds left in the period.
An Olivia Vero free-throw for the Red Hawks in the closing moments of the period gave the visitors the slim advantage heading into the second frame.
After allowing 20 points in the opening period, Vassar held Montclair State to just 11 tallies in the second stanza and a 26.3-percent conversion rate from the field.
Vassar quickly gained the lead in the second period on a Tova Gelb three-pointer and spread its lead to 26-20 on back-to-back buckets from McDermed just under three minutes into the quarter.
Vassar spread its lead to 30-22 on a Tash Thompson bucket in transition with 4:06 left before halftime.
After the Red Hawks climbed back to within 32-29 on a Megan Duffy triple, Vassar used a three-pointer from Julia Harvey and a bucket from Gelb to regain a 37-29 lead with 1:16 left in the second frame.
A pair of Maddie Ahearn free-throws in the final minute of the half sent the Brewers into the locker room with a 39-31 advantage.
Vassar shot 40.5-percent from the floor over the opening 20 minutes and canned five three-pointers.
Coming out of halftime, Montclair State knocked down a trio of three-pointers to slice their deficit to 41-40 with 7:41 left in the third frame.
Harvey knocked down a three to spread Vassar’s lead back to 44-41 and the Brewers would maintain the lead until a Shannon Hughes triple with 4:51 left in the quarter that gave the visitors a 47-46 advantage.
Following the Hughes three-pointer, Vassar outscored Montclair State 8-2 to end the period and carry a 54-49 lead into the final stanza.
After hitting just two three-pointers in the first half, Montclair State went 4-for-4 from behind the arc in the third period.
After regaining the lead on a Harvey three-point play with 4:02 left in the third, Vassar would not trail again in the contest.
The Brewers converted at 53.3-percent in the fourth period, while holding the Red Hawks to a 3-for-15 effort from the floor in the final 10 minutes.
Vassar moved its lead to double-figures for the first time on a Gelb conversion that pushed the Brewers in front 59-49 with 8:37 left to play.
The Brewers pushed their advantage to a game-high 17 points twice, including on a Caroline Siekman bucket with 64 seconds left to play.
Vassar converted at 42.3-percent from the floor after halftime and held Montclair State to 35.8-percent shooting.
For The Brewers
Harvey led a balanced scoring attack with a game-high 23 points, going 8-for-21 from the floor with four triples. Harvey added six rebounds and three steals.
McDermed produced 15 points on 5-for-10 shooting, adding six rebounds and two steals.
Gelb scored 13 points on 4-for-9 shooting to go along with seven rebounds and a team-high three assists.
Naiya Kurnik rounded out a quartet in double-figures with 11 points, adding five rebounds.
Bella Tawney led the team with 11 rebounds and four blocked shots.
For The Red Hawks
Duffy led Montclair State with 21 points after going 9-for-23 from the floor.
Isabella Orlando chipped in 14 points and swiped two steals.
Vero led the team with 11 caroms.
Kendall Hodges paced the Red Hawks with three assists.