After having their nine-game winning streak snapped by conference-leading Montclair State University (14-2), the women’s basketball team rebounded on Saturday with a 72-54 victory over New Jersey City University, improving their overall record to 11-3 on the season.
While most students were relaxing and enjoying the break from classes, the Lions got busy taking their opponents to school. Having gone 6-1 over the break while sweeping their competition at the Cruzin Classic in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., the Lions are currently in 2nd place in the NJAC standings, though after Montclair fell to Kean on Saturday, the two teams share a tie for best conference record at 8-1.
While head coach Dawn Henderson is very pleased with the way her team has been playing and working to get better every day, she downplayed the significance of their recent win streak.
“I tell the girls: Don’t worry about winning streaks,” Henderson said. “Just work hard every day and focus on the game that’s ahead.”
In the beginning of the season, the Lions were having no problems scoring the ball, but they were struggling to consistently produce the stingy, stifling defense that has been the benchmark of the College program for so many years.
Through the Lions’ first seven games, they allowed opponents to put up nearly 69 points per game. During the winter break they’ve held their competition to only 56 points a night.
“We have done a much better job defensively, slowly improving as the season has gone by, but we still need to continue to improve and get a little bit better every day,” Henderson said.
With just 11 regular-season games remaining, the Lions are now just past the halfway-point. They have already faced nine of their 11 remaining opponents, and given their 8-1 mark against these teams, one may be inclined to pencil the Lions into the playoffs already.
Despite all of the positives, Henderson is certainly not one to count her meals before they have been cooked.
“We’ve overcome so much as a team, playing through a lot of injuries, and having a lot of players step up for us,” Henderson said. “It’s great that we’re finally getting back to full strength, but now we’re going to have to work really hard to find our rhythm playing at full strength since we’ve been missing players for most of the season.”
Furthermore, many of their wins against these opponents were close, hard-fought battles.
“Nothing is easy the second time around,” Henderson said. “These teams are going to be fighting hard to get back at us.”
The Lions have a three-game road trip this week before returning home for a two-game homestand Monday, Jan. 27, against Stevens Institute of Technology and Wednesday, Jan. 29, against Richard Stockton College in Packer Hall, as the Lions look to build their chemistry and make another playoff push.