College nearly pulls off an upset over Kean; Scarlet Raiders too much for the Lions to handle

Junior guard Katie Occhipinti handles the ball and dishes out a pass. (Tom O’Dell / Photo Editor)

The College’s women’s basketball team fell to New Jersey Athletic Conference opponents Kean University and Rutgers University-Newark last week, bringing their season record to 2-4.

The Lions lost a close game, 72-56, against No.4 Kean University on Wednesday, Dec. 1.

On Saturday the Lions had a chance to top the undefeated Scarlet Raiders, but fell short 60-56.

“Losses this early in the season don’t mean much unless we learn from them,” senior guard Keri Washington said.

According to Washington, these losses have taught the team that nothing is going to be handed to them.

Both the Cougars and the Raiders remain undefeated this season.

According to the players, the team seems to be lacking chemistry.

“We have to find a rhythm and trust each others abilities and roles,” senior guard Stephanie Prall said.

“Sometimes teams with the most talent have trouble piecing things together,” Washington said.

Despite going into halftime with a three-point lead over Kean, the Lions let their advantage slip away in the second half, with the Cougars outscoring them 42-23 in the final 20 minutes.

In the first minutes of the second half, senior center Alex Gregorek scored five points for the College, but soon after, Kean made a 14-0 run and thus the game ended at 72-56.

Lions’ top scorers against Kean were junior guard Jessica Imhof and Gregorek, each with 11 points and six rebounds. Just behind, sophomore center Candace Vigo chipped in with 10 points for the College.

“I think we have played against some good competition thus far, but we still should have come up with more wins,” junior forward Hannah Tait said.

In the game against Rutgers University-Newark, the Lions thought they had a fair chance against the 6-0 Raiders. However, the Lions fell and advanced the Raiders’ record to 7-0 on the season overall and 2-0 in the NJAC.

“We expected to beat them and sometimes that can lead to a carefree mentality,” Prall said.

According to Tait, “Overall they played with more heart and that’s why they won.”

Scoring a season-high 16 points, Imhof led the Lions in baskets. Tait scored 12 and freshman Liz West netted nine.

Again, the Lions had a lead going into the second half, this time by 12, after a 10-0 run in the last three minutes of the half. Throughout the second half, the Raiders slowly moved ahead, finishing the game on top and remaining undefeated.

“It’s games like that that we need to close out and win,” Washington said.

“If we don’t play for a complete 40 minutes then we won’t succeed,” Tait said. “And that was the case in both.”

Next weekend, the College will take on Delaware Valley College at Elizabethtown College in the R1 Sports Blue Jay Classic Tournament on Friday, Dec. 10.

Winning the tournament, Prall said, will guide the Lions into the next couple of games.

“We need to get two good wins this weekend to make a stand and show what we are capable of,” Tait said.

While the team will not play an NJAC opponent in the Blue Jay Classic, Washington said, the games will be an opportunity for the Lions to improve their chemi-

stry as a team and get some sort of a winning streak started.

As for the next NJAC game, the Lions won’t play another conference opponent until January. However, even though Tait knows that the NJAC is a tough conference, she is confident the Lions can finish on top.

“We just need to keep our focus,” Tait said. “It’s very easy to become discouraged and to give up but I think as long as we take practice to the next level while keeping our focus on winning, we will be fine in our upcoming games.”