By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
Ewing, New Jersey — The College of New Jersey women’s basketball season continued on Friday night. The Lions defeated the Hilbert College Hawks, 61-42, at Packer Hall.
“I thought we had a heavy focus on rebounding this week,” Lions head coach Chessie Jackson said. “Hilbert is a good rebound team. I think we’re a little disappointed with that stat line, especially in the first half when they had 10 offensive boards on us. We had to get our game feet under us a bit. We capitalized going into the post a lot, which opened up opportunities for our guards to hit some threes, which we haven’t hit a lot of threes in recent games. I think their effort was really good, but there are some things to clean up for (RIT on Saturday).”
The Lions advance in the NCAA Division III Women’s Basketball Championship. They will host the RIT Tigers tonight at 5 pm for the opportunity to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
“They’re a really talented team,” Jackson said. “They’re really different from us. They’re fast, they’re small and they’re crappy. We got way more size than them. It’ll be interesting to see if it’ll be a defensive battle, or would it be a really high scoring game. I would like to have a real focus on limiting their points – their No. 3 (Jessica Glaz) went off for them – it was good for our team to sit there and watch that. I’m going to have to think creatively to show their run game, while capitalizing on our height and going inside. I think we’ll go to our big lineup more. How could they guard that? But could we guard their littles? That’s what I’m worried about.”
TCNJ is 13-0 at Packer Hall this season. The Lions improved to 22-6 on the season, while the Hawks ended their campaign with a 21-7 record.
“We really weren’t supposed to be here,” Hawks first-year head coach Amy Senefelder said. “We were picked seventh in our conference, so it was an uphill battle all year. It was a good experience for them to see where they’ll stand and what they’re capable of. We’re looking forward to next year.”
Hilbert jumped out to a 3-0 lead when Taylor Corts made a three-point basket. Kate O’Leary tied the game, before TCNJ went on a 5-0 run to make it 8-3 when Charlotte Schum made a three-pointer.
The Lions led by as many as eight points in the first quarter. Jen Byrne made a free throw to make it 13-5 with 2:25 left in the quarter.
The Hawks tied the game at 15 when Corts made a three-pointer. The game was tied at 17, before TCNJ went on a 17-4 run to end the quarter for a 34-21 lead at halftime.
The Lions had a 20-point lead in the third quarter when Shannon Devitt made a layup to make it 41-21. The Hawks cut the lead to 44-30 when Corts made a three-pointer, before TCNJ ended the quarter on a 6-2 run.
TCNJ led by double-digits in the fourth quarter.
Devitt scored a career-high, as she scored 21 points. She also had 15 rebounds, three blocks, and two steals.
“I have to give a lot to my teammates,” Devitt said. “They made great passes inside all game and it led to opportunities to score.”
She surpassed her previous high, as she had 18 points against Montclair State and New Jersey City University.
After having just two points in the first quarter, she had 11 points in the second quarter alone. She had eight points in the final two quarters.
“We capitalized on low-block entries and just took it from there,” she said.
Devitt was one of two Lions, who scored in double-figures. Lauren Barlow came off the bench and scored 14 points.
TCNJ had 18 bench points.
The Lions shot 40.6% from the field and 29.4% from three-point range. They shot 80% from the free throw line.
Corts led the Hawks with 18 points — and she was the only Hilbert player in double-figures. She also had four rebounds, two blocks, and two steals.
“Taylor has always been capable of shooting and scoring,” Kelsi Ebert said of Corts. “She guarded one of their bigger girls, and had an overall great game. She’s capable of dropping 30 points any night. It was really nice to see her step up [Friday night].”
Emily Gawlak, who led the team with 12.5 points per game average coming into the game, was shut down. She had just two points.
Hilbert shot 27.1% from the field and 26.7% from three-point range. They shot 75% from the free throw line.
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