Sophomore forward/center Liz West got her hands on a missed shot, brought it in and then put it back up to push the Lions ahead 2-0 in the first minute of the Lions opening NJAC Tournament contest against Rutgers University-Newark on Saturday, Feb. 18.
That score would only hold up for a matter of six seconds and would be the Lions only lead in a game that would end in a 48-37 loss.
Rutgers-Newark’s defense was all over the Lions, recording 10 steals and blocking seven shots. The Scarlet Raiders also grabbed 33 of their 48 rebounds on the defensive side of the ball.
“Newark did what they wanted to do, better than we did what we wanted to do,” head coach Dawn Henderson said. “It happens sometimes. Unfortunately for us it came at a time when you win and advance or go home.”
The Lions were held to a season-low 37 points in part because of the Scarlet Raiders swarming defense, but Henderson also believes that it was due to her team going “cold at the worst time.”
The Lions were only able to convert on 25 percent of their shots from behind the arc, while shooting for a percentage of 20.4 overall.
“I will give credit to Newark for being a disciplined, focused defensive team,” Henderson said. “I don’t think that we performed very well on offense though. Those two in combination led to our final score.”
Senior guard Jessica Imhof was the only Lion to reach double figures in scoring, leading the team with 12 points. West was the Lions second-leading scorer on the day with six points, but made her biggest impact on the board, registering 12 rebounds.
While the Lions struggled on offense, their defense was able to hold the Scarlet Raptors in check and keep the game from getting out of hand. Similar to the Scarlet Raptors, the Lions defense only allowed one opposing player to reach double-digit points.
In the end, the game came down to execution, according to Henderson.
“I think that Newark was more disciplined than us sticking to their game plan,” Henderson said. “We played strong defense ourselves. Anytime you hold your opponent to 48 points, you should be able to win the game.”
Although she admits there were moments to forget on Saturday, Henderson took pride in the Lions’ season-long transformation.
“This team was a pleasure to coach from beginning to end,” Henderson said. “They had great chemistry from the start and that made everyday fun. I think that they worked every day to improve their game. Unfortunately, the final day was a struggle for us.”