The Lions had an eventful week as their best scorer, junior center Hillary Klimowicz, reached quadruple digits in career points and the team took sole possession of first place in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) South Division.
The College claimed the division title and a first-round playoff bye with a victory over Rutgers University-Camden Saturday and Kean University’s upset loss at Rowan University the same day.
“We were so excited when we heard Kean had lost to Rowan,” senior guard/forward Sara Best said. “It’s a real confidence booster and great to know we have home-court advantage.”
The 84-46 win over the Scarlet Raptors marked the Lions’ seventh win in a row.
The Lions’ offense had five players score in double figures, led by Klimowicz, who scored a career-best 24 points and had 10 rebounds to mark her 19th double-double of the year.
Sophomore center Alexandra Gregorek had a double-double of her own as she posted 13 points and 10 boards on the day. Junior guard Alyssa Michella and freshman forward Kelsey Kutch added to the onslaught with 15 points each.
“We handled our offense very well,” head coach Dawn Henderson said. “Everyone got involved, and we were certainly more focused than last game.”
Klimowicz reached her 1,000th collegiate point in the College’s 74-61 win over Rowan University.
The Lions’ center reached the echelon midway through the first half and received a standing ovation after scoring the milestone bucket.
“I really liked how they honored this milestone in my life,” Klimowicz said. “I looked around and saw my teammates and our fans standing up and clapping for me, which really touched me. It was a very special night and it really does feel good to have achieved it at home.”
Klimowicz was not the only Lion honored Wednesday night, however, as “Senior Night” marked the final regular-season home game for forward Sara Best. Best finished the night with seven points, six boards and five assists, and concluded her regular-season career with 693 points, 239 rebounds and 136 assists.
“It felt really great being honored at Senior Night for all the hard work put in over the years,” Best said. “The fact that I’m the only senior just proves how strong this team is going to continue to be in the future, and I’m so glad to have been able to be around this amazing group of girls all these years.”
One member of this amazing group is junior guard Lisa Koch, who led all scorers with a career-high 19 points, including five baskets from beyond the arc.
Adding to the effort, the Lions’ defense held the Profs to less than 35 percent shooting from the floor and less than 15 percent from long range.
“Defensively, we struggled in the first five minutes of the second half,” Henderson said. “We did not execute during that time, but we closed well and definitely finished strong.”
The Lions ended the regular season 20-5 overall, but Henderson says the battle is far from over.
“We’re looking to win,” Henderson said. “We were tied for first, and now we’re just waiting to see who our next opponent is. We’re going to come to play.”
The Lions begin their playoff push at home today at 7 p.m. as they take on the Red Hawks of Montclair State University.