Struggling ‘D’ leads to three straight losses

The College’s women’s basketball team had a brutal week as it dropped three straight games, two against New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) opponents. After dual NJAC losses to Richard Stockton College and Kean University, the Lions dropped to 2-4 overall, with a 1-2 record in the NJAC.

The much-hyped game against Stockton, the same game that senior guard Tiara Simpkins said was “the game (she) is circling on her calendar” last week, turned out to be a bit of a one-sided affair, with the Ospreys leading the Lions after the half 38-28 and holding a 24-14 advantage on the boards. Stockton pulled away after the half, going on a 10-0 run and holding a 20-point advantage, which led to a 70-55 win for Stockton.

Despite the Lions’ multiple attempts to come back, the Ospreys ultimately held them off, thanks in large part to the efforts of Stockton senior forward Lisa Zak who had a game-high 14 points and junior forward Alicia Morris who dominated the boards, pulling in 13 rebounds.

Afterward, head coach Dawn Henderson commented on the loss to Stockton and its alleged status as the “team to beat,” saying “Stockton is the defending conference champion, so I guess it has an edge as the team to beat. However, if you have seen the early scores around the NJAC, it seems as though every team is the team to beat.”

The Ospreys offense was clicking on all cylinders in the second half, as they shot 48 percent from the field and 44 percent from beyond the arc. The Lions defense was playing well and sticking to its defensive assignments, but the Ospreys got hot and kept hitting shots despite the solid defensive effort.

Kean freshman guard Melissa Beyruti was nearly unstoppable in the women’s loss to the Cougars, as she scored a career-high 26 points and hit seven out of 11 from downtown in the College’s 75-68 loss to Kean. Beyruti did not go unchallenged, however, as sophomore guard/forward Sara Best also put up a career-high in points, scoring 17 on 8-15 shooting.

Best said she didn’t expect to perform as well as she did, but that she’s “doing everything she can to help the team.” When asked if she thought she could keep up this level of production throughout the season, Best said “I think I can and I’m going to try my hardest.”

After Best’s breakout game, Henderson said, “(Best) has done a great job (and) will be moving into the starting line-up due to an injury to (Simpkins) on Saturday. That is unfortunate, because Sara has been a great spark off the bench.”

The Lions defense, again, was solid in the first half, yet couldn’t stop the ball from going in the net in the second. Kean shot 47 percent from the field in the second half and drained four out of six from three-point range.

Senior forward Erin Frank had a solid all-around game and just missed a double-double, as she contributed nine points and 11 boards, seven of which were defensive rebounds.

The Lions also dropped a non-conference game to Dickinson College on Monday in a 58-41 decision. This is Dickinson’s second straight victory over the Lions, dating back to last season’s 64-55 victory over the Lions, which ended up snapping their 11-game winning streak.

The Lions again had to dig themselves out of a hole, as they found themselves down 27-23 at the half. The Lions weren’t able to respond in the second half, however, as Dickinson continued to build a lead, going up by as much as 20.

Despite the 35-34 advantage the Lions held in rebounds, they were crippled by their shooting, as they managed only to hit 31 percent of their shots and dropped the game 58-41.

Despite the three consecutive losses, Henderson displayed optimism, saying that the team is already responding to the losses, noting great practice efforts and improved play versus Kean. She went on to say, “We can only hope to learn from our mistakes, continue to work hard in practice and take care of business in our next game.”

The next opportunity for the Lions to “take care of business” will be today at 8 p.m. in Packer Hall against NJAC opponent Rutgers-Camden.