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Lions play improved defense in NJAC dogfight

Women’s basketball rattles off three wins in a row this week. (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)
Women’s basketball rattles off three wins in a row this week. (Courtney Wirths / Photo Editor)

After enduring a three-game slide in the first week of the new semester, their longest losing streak of the season, the College’s women’s basketball team got back to their winning ways this past week, beating Stephens Institute of Technology, Richard Stockton College and Ramapo College by an average margin of 18 points per game.

Lions head coach Dawn Henderson expressed her approval of the team’s performance of late.

“I’m very pleased with the way we played this past week,” Henderson said. “We started a little slow against Stephens, but we continued to get better every game, and that’s what counts.”

The Lions are 14-6 overall and remain second in the NJAC with a conference record of 10-3 heading into the final five games of the regular season — all of which are in-conference contests.

“Every game is so important at this point,” Henderson said. “It’s a dogfight when it gets to February as always, with everyone positioning for the playoffs.”

Among all the positives from this past week, perhaps the most impressive aspect of the Lions’ recent winning streak has been their defense, as they held their opponents to less than 47 points per game.

The Lions began their week with a pair of 15-point victories against Stephens and Stockton. In their matchup against Ramapo on Saturday, Feb. 1, they allowed the Roadrunners only 33 points on eight made field goals, both season-bests, after only narrowly surviving in their previous showdown with Ramapo this season, a 65-61 home win.

“It was really important to win all three games this past week now that we’re so late in the season,” Henderson said. “Different people stepped up, and we looked a little bit more like ourselves.”

Despite the College’s recent success, the memories of the three-game skid are still fresh in the mind of Henderson.

“We’ve won three in a row, but I think we’re still trying to find our way out of the losing streak we had the week before,” Henderson said.

However, this past week was filled with so many positives that over-sharing the ball became a problem at times. While Henderson wants her team to take open shots when they’re in the flow of the offense, she conceded that this was an easily correctable issue, and that her team’s unselfish nature is part of what makes this team so good.

“That’s why I love this group,” Henderson said. “They share the ball — they don’t care whose name is in the box score and that’s why we have 14 wins.”

Still, the Lions have had plenty of standout stars this season on the court and in the classroom. While it is no surprise given the team’s reputation for being a roster filled with scholar athletes, junior point guard and nursing major Kylie O’Donnell was named to CoSIDA’s Capital One Academic All-District team for District II. O’Donnell has also received recognition for her performance on the hardwood this season, having been named to the Marymount University Tipoff All-Tournament Team and receiving NJAC player of the week honors during that same first week of competition. She currently leads the NJAC and ranks in the top-10 in the nation in free throw percentage at 91.3 percent, having made 63 of her 69 attempts.

The Lions are back in action on Wednesday, Feb. 5, vs. Rutgers-Camden University at 6 p.m. in Packer Hall.


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