The Lions’ basketball team is still rolling with two very impressive victories this week, against both Rutgers University-Camden and Rowan University. The Lions knew the importance of this week with Kean University with the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Tournament looming ahead. If this week was any indication of how the Lions plan to play the rest of way, they should get prepared for an NJAC Championship.
The team’s week started off with an impressive defeat of an unmatched Rutgers-Camden team, 67-33. A game that started off tight early became nothing more than a laughing match for the College’s powerful team. Alyssa Michella sparked the Lions with 15 points to lead the game.
“Heading into the end of the season, every game is extremely important to us. Not only do we want to improve our record for the playoffs and tournament, but this is our last opportunity to play together as a group,” Michella said after the game.
Freshman forward Kelsey Kutch, who went into the game knowing the upcoming week would prove as a statement to upcoming teams, added 12 points and three steals. “If we didn’t make a statement, then Rowan and Kean wouldn’t fear us. I feel that the NJAC should know we were picked to win the conference for a reason, and we did just that with the win,” Kutch said.
Also adding 10 points apiece were seniors Hillary Klimowicz and Lisa Koch. The big win improved the team to a 19-4 record overall and a 9-2 record in the NJAC.
Perhaps even more impressive than that thumping was the collaborative team effort to overcome the biggest halftime deficit at home all year. Luckily for the College, they did just that on Saturday afternoon with a game against Rowan University that was much closer than the score portrayed. The Lions improved to 20-4 for the year and 10-2 in the NJAC with their 67-53 victory over Rowan. Everything looked good for the Lions in the beginning as they held Rowan scoreless for the first 3:42 of the first half. It looked as though defense would loom largely in this game with an assortment of turnovers by both teams. With tiring defense and a poor shooting performance in the first half by the College, the teams found themselves in an unfamiliar spot at halftime in a 32-20 hole.
“We pretty much realized that we had not shot the ball so badly all season and stemmed away from our usual game plans a little bit,” Klimowicz said. “When coach came in she pretty much reiterated what we had already discussed. Right before going back out into the court we brought in our huddle real tight and just took a second to look around and remember why we play and how there are only a few games left with each other.”
Klimowicz had 10 points against the Profs.
Clearly halftime served as a place for the Lions to regroup and prepare to come out strong in the second half. Led by sharp shooting sophomore Keri Washington who had a career-high 15 points, the Lions came out on fire with a 12-1 run in the first five minutes of the second-half. After the Lions brought themselves to within one point, it became a game of back-and-forth lead changes.
Rowan had no answer for junior center Alexandra Gregorek, who scored 11 points off the bench with many easy lay-ups in the second half. Kutch also scored 10 points in the game. In the last five minutes of the game, the College started to pull away. Despite giving up the ball 20 times, the Lions forced 26 turnovers in the victory over Rowan. This lockdown was a major tribute to the tough defense the team played in the second half, outscoring Rowan 47-19.
The game also had sentimental meaning to head coach Dawn Henderson, who won at least 20 games in a season for the seventh time in her career.
The next game for the Lions will be against Kean University today at 6 p.m. Three days later, the team will begin its quest to move through the NJAC tournament.