Lions net pair of wins

The women’s basketball team won two consecutive games to win the Stevens Tip-Off Tournament as they rolled past Middlebury College, 65-47, in the first round and the College of Staten Island (CSI), 81-55, in the final.

“It’s a good start to the season,” senior center and tournament MVP Hillary Klimowicz said. “Although these games were won by decent margins, the box score didn’t show these games were very competitive.”

As the Lions’ star center alluded, the road to the title was not as easy as the final scores showed. The Lions actually trailed the Middlebury Panthers at halftime during their first-round matchup.

Down 27-26 at intermission, the Lions put their offense in gear as they outscored their opponents 39-20 in the second half to coast to an 18-point victory and earn a game against CSI.

The 19th-ranked Lions were led down the stretch by Klimowicz as she tallied a game-high 25 points on 12-for-14 shooting and pulled down nine rebounds.

“The team did a very good job of getting the ball inside,” Klimowicz said. “We go inside and score, and when the double teams come, we do a great job of scoring on the kickouts.”

Some of those kickouts went to senior guard Alyssa Michella, who scored 13 points, with nine of those points coming on three-pointers.

Sophomore and last year’s New Jersey Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year Kelsey Kutch added 16 points.

“She’s matured, and even more so from last year,” Klimowicz said about the rising star. “As a freshman, you don’t know what to expect and you make rookie mistakes, but she has certainly adapted and come a long way.”

Kutch also made her mark in the final game of the round robin tournament, putting up another 16 points to help the College take down CSI and bring home the championship.

Four Lions reached double figures, including Kutch, Michella (19), Klimowicz (15) and junior center Alex Gregorek (10).

In addition to the diverse scoring, Michella, Klimowicz and Gregorek each pulled down seven boards.

“We’re still molding, and our new players are still learning to fill their roles, but with all of this coming together, we’re going to be solid,” Klimowicz said.

The College is on the road for their fourth consecutive game as they travel to Maryland to play Salisbury University. Game time is slated for 3:30 p.m.

Michael O’Donnell can be reached at odonnel7@tcnj.edu.