Lions bring it together in time for playoffs

The women’s basketball team jumped out to a 13-1 lead early in the first half on its way to a 71-52 win over Rutgers University-Camden on Senior Night last Wednesday. With the victory, the Lions finished the season at 12-13 overall and 7-6 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC).

Both teams struggled offensively at the outset, but a basket at the 16:30 mark sparked a 13-1 run to put the Lions in firm control of the game.

Sophomore center Hillary Klimowicz netted 12 of her 16 points to pace the Lions to its 34-22 halftime lead.

The Scarlet Raptors never challenged in the second half, as the Lions cruised to the final 71-52 score. With losses to the College and to Kean University on Saturday, Rutgers-Camden finished its season at 8-16 overall and 2-10 in the NJAC.

In addition to her 16 points, Klimowicz grabbed 11 rebounds for the double-double and had five blocks. Sophomore guard Alyssa Michella netted a career-high 11 points off the bench and junior guard/forward Sara Best added 10 points.

All four seniors contributed on Senior Night. Forward Breanne Depken dropped in five points and pulled down four rebounds, while guard/forward Megan Hueter added four points. Guard Margo Buchalski added a basket and guard Latissa Watson dished out an assist and pulled down two boards.

This was the final regular-season game for the seniors, who were honored prior to the game. The senior players have won two NJAC championships so far and are looking to make it a third.

The College faced second-seeded Montclair State University last night. The playoff game was played after The Signal went to press.

The College last faced Montclair on Dec. 9 and lost 59-47. However, head coach Dawn Henderson liked her team’s chances this time around.

“We are a way different team than we were (back then),” Henderson said. “We’ve been playing better and better lately. Our defense has been strong all season and our offense is coming along now.”

Henderson credits the improved play of the guards, who have been putting up more outside shots. She also has confidence in her inside players to limit Montclair’s senior forward Stephanie Machin, the defending NJAC Player of the Year. Machin is averaging 13.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game.

Henderson also praised Klimowicz, who has posted three double-doubles in the past three weeks and blocked 17 shots in just the last three games. Klimowicz registered eight of those 17 in the College’s upset win over Richard Stockton College.

Don’t count the Lions out despite a 7-6 conference record in the regular season. “We’re putting it together at the right time,” Henderson said.

The winner of this game advances to play Kean in the semifinal round tomorrow at 7 p.m., while the winner of the first-round game between Rutgers-Newark and Stockton advances to play William Paterson. The championship game will be held at the highest remaining seed on Saturday.