Lions start final stretch of the season with four straight wins

Junior captain Keri Washington searches for an open teammate
Junior captain Keri Washington searches for an open teammate

With two wins over Rutgers University, one Newark and another Camden, and a victory over Centenary College, the Lions are trying to grab every possible conference win in this crucial stretch of the season.

It was a tale of two games against the two Rutgers Universities, as the Lions edged out the Scarlet Raiders of Newark in a thrilling overtime battle of 61-59.

The win was, in big part, thanks to sophomore guard/forward Hannah Tait, who tallied a career-high 25 points to lead the Lions to victory. The Staten Island native also scored five of her team’s six points in overtime.

Down the stretch, the win came courtesy of great defensive play late. The Lions, the top-ranked defensive team in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC), allowed just three points in the extra session.

Despite the strong play at the end, it was a test of mettle through the second half. The College had led by as much as 10 in the period, but Rutgers University-Newark went on a run to cut the deficit to just two.

The sharpshooting from long distance by the Raiders knotted the game up at 56 with 1:08 remaining in regulation, and that was the way things went into overtime. Both teams combined on 19 makes from beyond the arc.

Senior guard and captain Karen Lassoni had a strong game in the win, recording a season-high nine points while posting three assists. Fellow captain and junior guard Keri Washington also had a strong performance, scoring 11 points while pulling down seven boards in front of the home crowd at Packer Hall.

Shockingly, this was only the second win for the Lions at home this season. The first came just three days earlier as the team pounded Rutgers-Camden 71-38.

The game was not close whatsoever. After opening up the contest 22-6, the College went from there and led at halftime. Once again, Tait led the way, netting 16 points for the home team.

The defense was also the focal point for the Lions, as they held the Scarlet Raptors under 25 percent shooting for the game and forced 20 turnovers. In eight of the team’s nine wins this season, they have held their opponent under 50 points.

Last Monday, Jan. 18, the College hosted the top-scoring team in Division III. The Centenary College Cyclones scored well below its average in the Lions’ 78-67 victory.

Junior forward Kelsey Kutch scored a career-high 26 points as the Lions won its fourth-straight game. Washington registered the double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Tait also added 18 points.

The dominant Lions’ defense once again stifled its opponent, as the Cyclones only shot 31 percent from the floor as a team.

After the fourth straight win, the Lions now stand at 10-7 overall and 3-2 in the NJAC. Strong play through January and February will be necessary if they look to make a run at the postseason.

The Lions play against only NJAC rivals for the remainder of the season, so every game is crucial. The College will host Montclair State University on Saturday Jan. 23 at 1 p.m. The Alumnae game will also be played that day, at 9:30 a.m.