Lions lose with playoffs looming on the horizon

Having fallen 63-49 to Montclair State University in its final regular-season game, the women’s basketball team failed to extend their seven-game winning streak heading into the NJAC Championship Tournament.

The result was an undesirable one for the Lions, who have beaten everyone in their conference except the Red Hawks at least once. It was still a night to be remembered, though, as the four seniors — guard Tiffany DeTulio, forward Liz West, guard Kelly Roddy and guard Colleen Duffy — were honored and joined by family and friends to celebrate their collegiate careers.

Roddy described the night as emotional.

“I can’t say enough about this team. I don’t even want to be a senior right now. I still want to be sophomore or a junior. I want to do this whole year over again,” she said.

The Lions didn’t play their A-game on this night, but as expected, they made no excuses, hung tough and fought until the final whistle.

“Their defense has given us trouble,” Roddy said. “They have (Nicosia) Henry on the top — she’s long and she’s strong. She’s so hard to pass around, she’s super athletic, and there’s (Melissa) Tobie, who’s also really long — it was so tough for our shooters to get one clean shot today. All credit to them, they’re a good team.”

Lions head coach Dawn Henderson also gave the opponents credit as well while remaining optimistic about the team’s postseason chances.

“They’re really good, so you can’t make too many mental mistakes,” Henderson said. “We gave up too many wide open threes. We gave up too many offensive rebounds, and we had 18 turnovers.”

Henderson knows the Lions have a shot at an NJAC title if they clean up their game for the playoffs.

“When we broke the press we broke it with short passes,” Henderson said. “When we tried to throw over the top we made mistakes. We just have to believe that and clean up a few of those mistakes. I really believe we have a chance at winning the (tournament).”

The night ended with a defeat, but the players will remember parts of Senior Night years from now.

“I wish I could say (I’ll remember) a win,” Roddy said. “But probably every moment leading up to the game. Just getting here, getting ready, being in the locker room, coming into the gym and warming up for the last time for a regular season game. And the opening ceremony was one of my favorite things.”

If the Lions defeat William Paterson at home on Tuesday, Feb. 25, they’ll either face Kean at home or Montclair on the road on Friday, Feb. 28, for the NJAC title.

The College split its two meetings with William Paterson this season, and as if the Lions needed any more motivation, the Pioneers effectively ended the Lions’ season last year in the NJAC semifinals.

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