The women’s basketball team used a strong second-half performance to propel them past Rutgers University-Newark 59-47 on Saturday at Packer Hall. Sophomore forward Sara Best led the Lions with a game-high 16 points, 11 of which came in the decisive second half.
“We almost lost to them on the road, and we talked about that over the course of the season, but right now we’re right in the thick of things,” head coach Dawn Henderson said. “Everyone knows what needs to be done and our players just get that.”
After a 27-27 first half that saw the Lions go scoreless for more than six minutes, the College took a 47-42 lead with eight minutes left to play and never looked back. The College’s defense eased the blow of a scoreless stretch that lasted from just under 12 minutes to 6:24. Throughout the game, the Lions allowed only 20 points and forced 27 turnovers.
Senior forward Erin Frank tallied 14 points, while junior forward Breanne Depken chipped in with 10 points off the bench and senior center Danica Miller grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
The win is the Lions’ fifth consecutive victory and raises their record to 15-7, 12-4 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC). Rutgers-Newark dropped to 14-9, 9-7 in the NJAC. With the win the College remains in solid third-place position in the NJAC playoff picture.
Junior forward Megan Hueter paced the Lions in the first half with eight points, while the Scarlet Raiders’ sophomore forward Eni Fageyinbo and sophomore guard Sabrina Sanchez also added eight points. Miller had eight of her 11 rebounds in the opening half.
The College handily defeated rival Rowan University 61-30 on Wednesday in Glassboro to sweep the season series. Hueter led three Lions who scored in double-digits with a game-high 13 points.
“She’s played very well this year,” Henderson said of Hueter. “She’s always been a scorer, but she’s improved her game as a defensive player, which we needed her to do.”
Frank added 12 points and senior guard Alexa Shields scored 10 points, while dishing out four assists and grabbing three steals.
“It was just another game and we got another win at the end of the year,” Henderson said.
When asked if it meant more to beat Rowan, considering the rivalry between the two schools, Henderson said, “If they were more competitive, yes, but they’ve had a down year.”
The College went on a 12-2 run four minutes into the first half and never looked back, taking a 33-18 lead into the locker room. Hueter and Shields each scored 10 points in the first half. The second half proved more of the same as the Lions outscored the Profs 28-12.
The College will travel to Montclair State University today to take on the second-place Red Hawks. The game will help clarify the top of the NJAC playoff picture and almost certainly finalize the first-round match-ups. The College defeated Montclair 67-63 on Jan. 11 at home.
“This time of year we focus on taking each game individually and not getting too high or too low,” Henderson said. “That’s served us well this year.”