FDU women’s basketball team heading to Final Four, March 21

The FDU-Florham women's basketball team celebrates after advancing to Final Four. Photo: Courtesy of FDU
The FDU-Florham women's basketball team celebrates after advancing to Final Four. Photo: Courtesy of FDU
The FDU-Florham women's basketball team celebrates after advancing to Final Four. Photo: Courtesy of FDU
The FDU-Florham women’s basketball team celebrates after advancing to Final Four. Photo courtesy of FDU

The Fairleigh Dickinson University-Florham women’s basketball team is heading for the Division III Final Four, after knocking off Montclair State over the weekend. Here is the story, from FDU’s media office:

MADISON, N.J. – The FDU-Florham Devils women’s basketball team is Final Four bound after overcoming a six-point halftime deficit to defeat the Montclair State University Red Hawks 73-53 on Saturday night at the Ferguson Recreation Center.

The Devils (31-0) will take on Tufts University (30-1) next Friday, March 21st at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in the NCAA semi-finals. Tufts defeated Ithaca College 61-59 on Friday in their quarterfinal matchup.

Freedom Conference Player of the Year, Kyra Dayon (Trenton, N.J./Trenton Central) paced the Devils attack with a game-high 22 points in the win, while sophomore forward Shalette Brown (Somerset,N.J./Franklin) was dominant, totaling 17 points and 17 rebounds for her 10th double-double of the season, as the Devils advanced to their first-ever Final Four appearance.

In front of a capacity crowd on Saturday night, the two New Jersey schools faced off in a contest that did not disappoint. Montclair State freshman Sage Bennett opened the scoring with a layup, which was promptly countered by a layup from Dayon. The first half was a neck-and-neck battle, which featured five ties and six lead changes. With the game knotted at 19-19, the Red Hawks closed the half with an 11-5 run and claimed a 30-24 lead at the break.

Dayon led all scorers at the half with 10 points, while junior forward Melissa Tobie topped the Red Hawks with nine points in the first stanza. FDU-Florham shot 26.9 percent over the first 20 minutes of action, including 0-5 from downtown, however, the Devils took advantage at the free throw line by converting 10 of their 14 attempts from the stripe.

The Devils calling card this season has been the second half outburst and tonight was no different. FDU-Florham quickly erased the six-point halftime deficit and evened the score at 33-33. Propelled by their relentless defense, the Devils put together a 19-3 run that spanned 8:24 and staked a 50-36 lead. Over the course of the run, Dayon tallied eight points, while senior point guard Jalessa Lewis (Irvington, N.J./Mount St. Dominic) added seven and the Devils forced the Red Hawks into four turnovers. The decisive-run changed the course of the game and FDU-Florham refused to relinquish control.

The home team preserved their double-digit lead over the game’s final eight minutes to advance to the semi-finals in Wisconsin. FDU-Florham outscored Montclair State 49-23 and limited the Red Hawks to just 36.4 percent shooting in the decisive second half.

Junior guard Janitza Aquino led the Red Hawks with 11 points, while Tobie filled up the stat sheet with 10 points, 12 rebounds, five blocks and five steals in defeat.

With Thomas More College’s 76-60 loss to Whitman College, the Devils are the only remaining unbeaten team in the country. Whitman will take on University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in the other national semi-final at Stevens Point.

Next up for the Devils:

FDU-Florham heads to Stevens Point, Wisconsin to participate in the 2014 NCAA Division III Tournament Final Four. The Devils will take on the Jumbos of Tufts University next Friday, March 21, with start time to be determined.

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