Conference rivals upset Lions, break 11-game win streak

After falling in the New Jersey Athletic Championship (NJAC) last season to Kean University, the College must have had this date circled on their calendar since that heartbreaking loss.

Unfortunately for them, their plan for revenge was thwarted in one second.

The 2008 NJAC runners-up fell once again to the No. 19 Cougars 74-72 last Thursday night after a snow storm delayed the Wednesday’s game until the following day.

The loss came after the Cougars sank a three-point shot with one second remaining to win the game by two.

“When the shot was made, everyone was shocked and it seemed the energy and excitement was sucked out of us,” junior guard Karen Lassoni said.

The game was back and forth from the start, and as the game moved into the second half, both teams found themselves forced to recover from double-digit deficits.

Near the end of the game, the Lions went on an impressive 9-0 run to tie the game at 67-67.

Then, with the Lions down by one with 12 seconds to go, senior center Hillary Klimowicz converted two free throws to give her team a 72-71 lead.

The dagger into the College’s heart followed as the Cougars guard Olivia Triano won it on the clutch shot from downtown.

Klimowicz led all scorers with 25 points and added 14 boards. Junior center Alexandra Gregorek also chipped in big with her 15 points, and senior guard Lisa Koch added a career-best nine dimes.

With the win, the Cougars further established their dominance in the NJAC South Division with an 8-0 record in conference and 13-3 overall. However, some Lions think this game could easily have gone the other way.

“Kean is a good team, but they are definitely not as good as years past,” Lassoni said. “They are very athletic, but they are missing their best three-point shooter due to an ACL injury. Overall they are a very beatable team.”

Despite the loss, the Lions did get back to their winning ways, as they handily defeated the Roadrunners of Ramapo College 65-53.

Klimowicz led the way once again, as she totaled 15 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks. Senior guard Alyssa Michella also contributed with 11 points and six boards of her own.

After its first loss in 11 games followed by the win, the College now stands at 15-4 overall with a 7-2 record in the NJAC. Ramapo drops to 8-11 overall and a 3-6 record in conference play.

“I’m feeling really good about the team despite our loss to Kean,” Lassoni said. “When we put everything together like rebounding well and limiting our turnovers, I can’t see any team getting in our way.”

The Lions will test that mettle tomorrow as they are on the road for their next contest against the Blue Jays of Elizabethtown College. Start time is 7 p.m.