Frank, Miller lead the way behind staunch defense

Whatever questions have faced the women’s basketball team this season, Erin Frank has provided the answers. Frank’s team-high 11 points and seven rebounds helped return the College to its winning ways on Saturday by defeating William Paterson University (WPU) 44-39 in Packer Hall.

Danica Miller grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds and blocked five shots for the Lions’ cause. Miller’s effort on the boards proved important for the Lions since the Pioneers held a 57-44 edge on the glass.

Breanne Depken chipped in with seven points and seven rebounds off the bench.

“The importance of this game is we were tied with William Paterson and this time of year you want to get placement against your conference opponents for the playoffs,” head coach Dawn Henderson said.

The win snapped a two-game losing streak and put the College within one game of the top spot in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC). The Lions now stand at 10-6 overall and 7-3 in the NJAC, while William Paterson’s record dropped to 10-7, 6-4 in the NJAC.

With Saturday’s win, the Lions earned a season sweep of the Pioneers, following a 77-66 road win earlier this season.

Luci Custis led the Pioneers with 11 points, while Lori Custis added 10 points and Janell Fabor had a game-high 15 rebounds for the Pioneers.

The College held a one-point lead after the first half, but WPU burst out of the locker room with a 6-0 run. The Pioneers held the Lions scoreless for the first five minutes of the second half.

Frank gave the Lions their first lead midway through the half with a layup. Then sophomore forward Sara Best hit a jumper to put the Lions ahead 40-39 with four minutes to play.

The College played tough defense throughout the game, limiting WPU to just 17.9 percent from the field. The Lions also shut down the Pioneers down the stretch, holding them scoreless over the final four minutes to secure the win.

Prior to Saturday, the College dropped two straight games by a total of six points to Mount St. Mary and New Jersey City University (NJCU). The loss to NJCU ended a 20-game winning streak the College owned over the Gothic Knights.

“I would like to think we didn’t overlook (the Gothic Knights),” Henderson said. “But human nature would say if it’s not an opponent we traditionally have a hard time with, things can happen.”

The Lions had quite an eventful winter break, stringing together a seven-game winning streak dating back to Dec. 7. Frank and junior guard/forward Megan Hueter keyed the Lions’ run of success. Hueter had five double-digit scoring games during the streak.

“We hit some tough times early in the season and we had a lot of injuries,” Henderson said. “We had a can-do attitude and that definitely won some key games for us.”

Frank punctuated the run brilliantly by hitting two free throws with time already expired to lift the Lions to a one-point victory over Rutgers University-Newark on Jan. 14.

“Erin has been our most consistent player,” Henderson said. “She scores, she rebounds, she’s one of our best free throw shooters and she’s been a good leader.”

The College played with many former Lions players in attendance on Saturday, as the program celebrated its Alumnae Weekend.

The Lions will try to continue their tough conference play when they travel to Richard Stockton College to take on the Ospreys tonight.