After going on a nine game winning streak and looking at the possibility of gaining the first seed in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC), the College’s Women’s Basketball team lost two in a row this week, leaving them with a third place finish in the league.
The loss forces the Lions to face the number two seed Richard Stockton College (18-7, 14-4) in Pomona, next Thursday at 7 p.m. for the first round of the NJAC Tournament, rather than keeping the game in Packer Hall.
“Home court advantage is a big factor anytime,” head coach Dawn Henderson said. “We’d much rather play at home with our fans.”
“It’s dissapointing to have to go down there to play, but we know we can beat them,” junior center Adrienne Warner said.
Montclair State University (MSU) handed the Lions their second straight loss with a final score of 61-57.
Senior center Jasmine Batts led the visiting Red Hawks with her double-double performance of 17 points and 13 rebounds. She was also 8-16 from the floor and led both teams with five steals. Freshman forward Ebony Allen also excelled for MSU with 12 points of her own.
The win breaks MSU’s four-game losing streak and enhances their record to 13-11 overall, 8-10 in the league.
The Red Hawks led the Lions, 33-31, at the end of the half. Warner and junior forward Laura Mala paced the College with eight points a piece, while fellow junior Liz Martin also added seven points of her own.
In the first half, the three-point range was dominated by MSU, who was 4-8 while the Lions were held to an 0-3 effort.
The second half was highlighted by MSU’s 13-0 run at 4:43, which gave them a 54-47 lead. The Lions then managed to battle back to within two when Mala landed a three pointer with 16 seconds left on the clock in the second half.
The Red Hawks went 0-4 on the free-throw line in the next 13 seconds, freezing their lead at two. Mala then attempted to win the game with another three-point shot, but the ball went in and out with just three seconds left on the clock.
Batts and rookie forward Shikeena Lynard finished the Lions off with one free throw each.
Sophomore guard Theresa DiMedio led the Lions with 17 points and equaled her season-best seven rebounds while producing a career-best five assists. Mala finished with 15 points and six rebounds while Warner chipped in 10 points and seven boards.
Looking ahead, Martin said that the two-game losing streak will not affect their game against the Red Hawks.
“We try and leave it all in the locker room and don’t worry about past games,” Martin said.
Warner added that the regular season has nothing to do with the postseason.
“At this point, it’s a new season and everyone’s equal,” Warner said. “We’re starting over now.”
Prior to the game, the College’s two senior guards, Kristen McCandless and Jen Munday, were honored for their outstanding athletic careers.
In their four years as Lions, the women’s basketball team compiled an 83-23 overall record and a 61-11 mark in the NJAC. Two years ago, McCandless and Munday were a part of the team that captured the program’s first-ever NJAC Championship. That team posted an impressive 18-0 league record and went on to the final eight of the NCAA Tournament.
Ospreys 66, Lions 55
Earlier in the week, the Ospreys of Richard Stockton College (RSC) broke the Lions’ nine game winning streak with their 66-55 win.
The win took second place in the NJAC out of the possession of the Lions and improved RSC’s record to 18-6 overall and 14-3 in the NJAC.
Despite Martin’s 20 point showing, which marks the third 20-point performance of her career, the College never forged ahead of the Ospreys in the contest. The Lions also out rebounded RSC 41-22.
“Mentally, we weren’t as prepared as we should have been,” head coach Henderson said. “We allowed 38 points in the first half, so I was disappointed in our defensive effort.”
The Lions also struggled from the three-point range, hitting only one of 10 three-point shots, including an 0-6 run in the second half.
Coming off the bench, rookie Kristen Spencer gave the Ospreys the spark they needed in the first half, scoring three three- point shots to add to her total of 11 first half points.
Junior forward Takisha Pride also aided RSC with 13 points and seven rebounds while senior forward Tamika Riley added 11 of her own.
The College faced its largest deficit at 50-35, but then responded with six unanswered points, four by Martin, to cut the lead to 50-41.
Junior Christina Mason reacted for the Ospreys with a three- pointer that once again gave her a team a double-digit lead, which they maintained for the final eight minutes of the game.
The Lions will face Richard Stockton College in the first round of the NJAC Tournament Thursday at 7 p.m.