In the last game of head coach Dawn Henderson’s coaching career, the Lions scored a season low 38 points and lost 52-38 on Wednesday, Feb. 15, against Rutgers University-Newark.
With the loss, the Lions no longer qualify for the upcoming New Jersey Athletic Conference tournament. Meanwhile, the Scarlet Raiders placed in the final sixth seed through a tiebreaker with Rutgers University-Camden.
It was a rough night for the Lions offense, who only made 14 out of 53 shots. The Scarlet Raiders forced 14 turnovers in the first quarter alone and built a 14-point lead by the end of the quarter.
After the first quarter, the Lions hung on, but could not close the gap. Junior forward Chiara Palombi scored 17 points, almost half of the team’s total score and led the team with eight rebounds. Junior forward Nikki Schott also contributed eight points and five rebounds.
The Lions weren’t able to slow down the Raiders offense. Raiders senior guard Maria Simmons hindered the Lions defense, registering a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds.
“Rutgers has some quick, strong defenders at the guard spot,” Henderson said. “They disrupted our game plan of getting the ball inside where we might have had an advantage.”
Senior guard Kim Dana and senior forward Katy Amato played their last game in Packer Hall. Dana scored two free-throws and grabbed three rebounds. Amato also snatched five rebounds.
Henderson leaves a substantial legacy at the College. After brief coaching jobs at Worcester State College and Drew University, Henderson began coaching at the College in 1993. Since then, she led the women’s basketball program to four NJAC championships, nine NCAA championship appearances, a Final Four appearance and 436 wins. Henderson ranks 21st in career wins in active Division III women’s basketball coaches with 482.
“It has always been a combination of the players we were lucky to have recruited, strong assistant coaches and determination to work together,” Henderson said. “When there is a commitment to being the best that you can be from a group of people with a common goal — that’s what TCNJ women’s basketball has always been about.”
After a monumental career, Henderson looks back at her cherished moments.
“There were so many moments in a 24-year career: from the first time the team made the NCAA tournament in 2009 (to) when the team took a bus trip to Maine and won the conference four times,” Henderson said. “When the team traveled five times to either California, Arizona and Florida to the Final Four — all the relationships with my players, so many moments.”