By Anthony Caruso III
Posted: January 31st, 2015 at 9:55 PM EST
With the end of the season near, The College of New Jersey women’s basketball knows what’s at stake. If they win out, they are in the New Jersey Athletic Conference.
However, if they lose, it gets harder to make the playoffs, which they have done for years. This afternoon in Packer Hall, the Lions were able to defeat Rutgers-Newark Scarlet Raiders, 65-57.
The win improved the home team to 10-10 on the season. Rutgers-Newark also has a 10-10 mark; however, they are 6-7 in the conference. The Lions are 5-8 in the NJAC.
“We’re excited to be back at .500,” head coach Dawn Henderson said. “We tried a couple of different things, and it worked for us. We struggled and didn’t shoot particularly well at times. I’m glad they were rewarded for the hard work.”
The Lions were led by Angelica Esposito, who had a career-high 23 points. She was 6 of 11 from the field, including 3 of 5 from three point range, and 8-for-8 from the charity stripe.
“My teammates did a good job in getting me the ball,” Esposito added. “We do a good job of sharing the ball. Today, I was able to make the shots, while other days, it could be any one of my teammates.”
She wasn’t the only Lions player to have a career-high. Freshman Charlotte Schum had a career-high 11 points, including 4-for-4 from the field, in 15 minutes.
Senior Kelly Couglin also had 11 points. Katy Amato scored six points, while Jess Lynch and Jessica Goldbach had four points. Cindy Napolitano added three points, while Christina Merlin had two, and Kylie O’Donnell had a point.
“We were very excited coming into this game,” Schum mentioned. “We prepared very well, and we came out with a lot of energy. We had very good shots against their defense. We prepared very well for this game, and we looked for the open gaps. Once we had an open shot, we had to make it count.”
The Scarlet Raiders were led by Jade Howard, who had 21 points. She was held to just four points in the second half after having 17 points in the first half.
“She’s a very good player,” Esposito acknowledged. “Luckily, we got her into foul trouble in the first half and early in the second half, so she was in and out. It was hard for her to be comfortable and get a rhythm. She’s a great player, and the best player on their team by far.”
Shala Glenn was the other Rutgers-Newark player in double-figures with 12 points. Maria Simmons added seven, while Sharee Gordon and Arianna Williams contributed six points. Jasmine Lombard had five points.
In the Lions 15-7 run to end the game, Esposito scored eight points. Six of the eight points came in a row.
In addition, six – two each from Esposito, Merlin, and Coughlin – of the 15 points were from the free throw line. As a team, they were 19 of 20 in the game.
“We’re pretty good foul shooters, so we did what we needed to do that way,” coach Henderson stated. “We made a couple of key stops, too. We can still improve in certain areas, but free throws when you games.”
Rutgers-Newark had a two point lead late, before the Lions went on their run. Early in the second half, they had a 7 point lead following Williams’ three pointer at 37-30.
The Scarlet Raiders had a two-point lead at halftime. The Lions went on a 10-2 run to end the first half to get it within just two points.
Rutgers-Newark led by as much as 8 points in the first half. The game was tied three times in this half, and the Lions biggest lead was just 4 points.
“When we were going back and fourth, our shots weren’t falling in the first half,” Schum added. “We knew they would fall eventually.”
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