By Miguel Gonzalez
Despite the heavy rain, Packer Hall was filled with spectators, students and family members from both ends of the court to celebrate the women’s basketball team’s senior day on Saturday, Feb. 10.
Yet, the Lions’ main priority that day was the visiting team, Montclair State University, who ranked No. 22 nationally according to D3hoops.com. After a close and heated game, the Lions prevailed over opponent Montclair State with a 62-59 win.
The senior trio of guard Charlotte Schum and forwards Nikki Schott and Chiara Palombi had their own banners posted above the stands.
Sophomore forward Jen Byrne was looking forward to senior day.
“Coming into the game, it was a big match against Montclair,” Byrne said. “ It was really exciting, especially for senior day.”
The match started slow as both teams fought for points. Montclair State struck first as senior guard/forward Katie Sire caught a pass and scored a layup.
The Lions immediately responded on the next play when Schum scored a layup of her own.
Montclair then began to pick up the pace, scoring four times and gaining a lead of 11-5 over the College. In the eighth minute, Schott stopped Montclair’s momentum by making two free throws. Byrne followed with a jump shot to finish the first quarter.
The Lions still couldn’t slow down Montclair’s offense in the second quarter. With the Lions down 22-13, Schum sparked a rally by scoring back-to-back layups. Afterward, junior guard Kate O’Leary got into the groove and scored a layup along with a free throw.
The team kept shooting more layups as the second quarter continued. With 19 seconds remaining, Schott stole Montclair’s possession and assisted O’Leary’s three-pointer. By halftime, the Lions gained a 29-25 lead.
Schott and junior forward Samantha Famulare led the Lions’ offense in the third quarter. Schott drained three free throws while Famulare produced two three-pointers off the arc. Despite Schott and Famulare’s efforts, the Lions held a slim 46-44 lead by minute 30.
In the fourth quarter, the Lions were able to withstand Montclair and secure an important conference victory. Famulare drove to the hoop and scored a layup, followed by a free throw. Both Montclair and the College remained stagnant until Montclair senior forward Taylor Harmon scored a layup in the 35th minute.
The score then went back and forth, with the Lions holding a narrow lead, 60-59. In the last 13 seconds, Famulare scrambled open for a pass until an opponent fouled her. She then scored two consecutive free throws for the Lions to ultimately win, 62-59.
In an earlier home game on Feb. 7, the Lions defeated William Paterson University, 64-56.
The women’s basketball team is now undefeated at home this season, currently ranked second in the NJAC with a 14-3 conference record.
The Lions will travel to Newark, New Jersey to take on Rutgers University-Newark on Feb. 14, for the chance to clinch home field advantage for the NJAC tournament.