Senior center Hillary Kilmowicz netted her 1000th career point, head coach Dawn Henderson earned her 300th career win and the rest of the women’s basketball team didn’t so do badly themselves, racking up their eighth and ninth straight wins to wrap up a week of milestones for the Lions.
Just days after becoming the 12th woman to join the 1000-point club at the College, Klimowicz led the Lions to an overtime victory over the host Scarlet Raiders of Rutgers University-Newark 64-56 on Saturday.
“Getting my 1000th point was exciting,” Klimowicz said. “It was a very nice accomplishment but without my teammates (it) would never have happened.”
Klimowicz had an extraordinary game, tallying 24 points, 16 rebounds, and nine blocks.
“The overtime game against Rutgers-Newark was a good win for us,” Klimowicz said. “Half of the team was sick but we pulled through. Overall it was a great team effort and we fought it out.”
The win was a nail-biter indeed, as the College had to rely on the clutch heroics of sophomore forward Kelsey Kutch. The 2007-08 New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) rookie of the year sunk a pair of free throws near the end of regulation to tie the game, and then drained two more from the charity stripe at the beginning of regulation to propel the Lions towards the “W.”
Consequently, the Lions may have won the game by making the most of their free throw opportunities, netting 17 of 25 from the line.
“I knew I had to make those free throws,” Kutch said. “I had been sick for a while before this game and all I kept thinking was this is the kind of situation big time players thrive being in. There was nothing better than at the end of the game when we won and everyone on the team was excited and giving me hugs. I knew I just helped my team as part of their 45-minute fight to win, and it was a team victory.”
With the win, coach Dawn Henderson recorded her 300th career win at the College and her 200th win in the NJAC. This is her 20th season at the College.
“I think Coach’s 300th win was a great milestone for her in her career, but I know she is more focused on winning an NJAC championship and making it to the NCAA tournament than personal accomplishments,” junior guard Karen Lassoni said. “She didn’t even know she was approaching 300 wins until a couple of days beforehand, which really shows where her focus is.”
The College would not have gotten to Coach Henderson’s 300th win without helping her to her 299th victory, as the Lions handily defeated Rowan University 73-60 last Wednesday.
Trailing by six at halftime, the Profs kicked off the second half by putting together a few small runs, cutting the lead as close as three. But the Lions kept their rivals at bay, pulling away thanks to a huge 21-point output from senior guard Alyssa Michella.
The sharpshooting Michella nailed seven of the Lions’ 11 shots from beyond the arc, and pulled down seven boards. Kutch also grabbed seven rebounds of her own and had 19 point in the winning effort.
“With Hillary and Alex (Gregorek) not playing, I put so much pressure on myself to do well knowing that’s what everyone expected, and I put the world on my shoulders,” Kutch said. “But with everyone around me performing so well, especially Alyssa hitting seven threes, I just feed off their play and just began having fun.”
The victory puts the Lions at 12-3 overall and 4-1 in the NJAC. The Profs fall to 7-7 with a 1-4 record in conference.
The Lions will be looking for their 10th straight win tonight, when they host the Scarlet Raptors of Rutgers University-Camden at 6 p.m. at Packer Hall. As the Lions become immersed in the center of their challenging NJAC schedule, the leadership of their accomplished center and head coach.