By Anthony Caruso
The College’s women’s basketball team split their games, narrowly falling to New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) rival Stockton University on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 54-53, but coming up big against Rutgers University-Newark, 70-63, on Saturday, Jan. 30. The Lions head into their crucial remaining conference games with a 10-9 record.
The College is 6-6 within the NJAC and tied for fifth within conference play with Rutgers University-Camden, who has defeated the Lions twice this season.
At this time, Kean University and William Paterson University are tied for fourth with 7-5 records and only the top six teams make the conference postseason tournament.
“I have every confidence in this team that we’ll be where we need to be when the season’s over,” head coach Dawn Henderson said. “I feel we can make the tournament.”
On Wednesday night, the Lions were defeated by the Richard Stockton Ospreys, 54-53, in overtime at Packer Hall for their third straight loss.
The Lions led for much of the game, except in the fourth quarter, when the Ospreys scored 14 points to take the lead.
In the waning moments of the fourth quarter, both teams battled for the lead, exchanging baskets with one another until the game was tied at 53.
“They’re a really good team,” sophomore guard Angelica Esposito said. “They’re doing really well and we expected them to come back on us. I think it proves that we can play with anyone if we can play to our potential.”
With 1.9 seconds remaining, Esposito was called for a controversial foul that sent Ospreys’s sophomore forward Sasha Williams to the free throw line.
“As I said to the kids, I didn’t see a foul,” Henderson added. “What made me upset about it, (was that the referee) made a call against us in the final seconds of our last game. So as much as that’s upsetting, there were other things that we could have done better in the game.”
After missing the first shot, Williams completed the second one, giving Stockton the one-point lead.
Henderson immediately called a timeout following the completed free throw. That advanced the ball to near court in hopes of giving her team a better chance of getting off a good shot.
Sophomore guard Cindy Napolitano was given the opportunity to make the final shot, but was unable to get it off in time and the Ospreys escaped with the close win.
The game was also tied when the score hit 44, 46 and 48 points. Esposito had to make a two-point basket to send the game into overtime.
Williams was a force in the paint, as she scored 22 points for her team when they needed it, while her teammate, sophomore guard Lea Mendolla, added 19 points to the board. Treadwell had six points.
“(Williams and Treadwell) are tough and they’re very good players,” Henderson said. “They have two shooters to balance it out. I thought we did the best that we could against them.”
Esposito scored a game-high 24 points. Napolitano and sophomore forward Nikki Schott had eight points each. Junior guard Kim Dana also had six points and senior forward Christina Merlin had four points.
The Lions’s largest lead was by nine points in the third quarter at 9:45. There was two lead changes and five time that the game was tied. The Ospreys’s largest lead was at 5:11 in the first quarter, when they led by three points.
On Saturday evening, the Lions defeated the Rutgers-Newark Scarlet Raiders, 70-63, at the Golden Dome Arena in Newark, N.J. This was the Lions’s first win since Friday, Jan. 13, against Kean University.
There were nine lead changes in this game. The game was tied five times and the Lions led by nine points with 23 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Esposito led the College with 23 points. Junior forward Katy Amato was the other player with double-figures, as she had 12 points. Senior forward Christina Merlin and Dana also added nine points each.
“I think we have to learn from our mistakes,” Esposito said. “We’ve learned a lot from them and do our best. If we can do that and limit our mistakes, we have a good chance of winning on Saturday.”
Freshman guard Kate O’Leary had eight points. Sophomore guard Charlotte Schum and senior guard Jess Lynch had four points each and Schott had a point.
At halftime, Rutgers-Newark led, 28-24. But after the end of the third quarter, the Lions led, 52-49.
Then, in the final quarter, the College pulled ahead, scoring 18 points to secure the win. The Scarlet Raiders were only able to score 14 points in the final session.