March 6, 2009

Bethlehem, PA - The College of New Jersey women's basketball team opened action on Friday night in the 2009 NCAA Division III Championships at Moravian College. Ranked 25th in the latest WBCA National Poll, TCNJ would beat No. 23 ranked DeSales to advance in the NCAA tournament. TCNJ improves to 24-4, while the Bulldogs' season wraps with a 23-5 record. The Lions victory over DeSales marks the first win for the Lions in five previous meetings as the Lions entered the game 0-5 vs. DeSales.

The Lions have now won 21 of their last 22 games and advances to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the 11th time in program history as they are now 12-11 overall in tournament play.

TCNJ's senior captain, center Hillary Klimowicz (Scotch Plains, NJ/Scotch Plains-Fanwood) added a game-high 31 points with 15 rebounds for her 42nd career double-double. The Lions' leading scorer this year, Klimowicz now has 1,308 career points at TCNJ and moved ahead of Jen Hutchinson (1,294 points, 1996-2000) for the No. 3 spot on TCNJ's career scoring list as she now has 1,308 points. Overall on her collegiate career, she boasts 1,583 points and 1,012 rebounds.

The two teams were tied at 26 at the break as the Lions struggled from three-point range. TCNJ tallied their first three-point basket with 2:35 left in the half and was 1-10 from three-point range, while the Bulldogs shot 38.5% from three-point range (5-13).

DeSales's senior guard LeighAnn Burke (Philadelphia, PA/Archbishop Ryan) led the way in the first half as she had 13 points with four treys. TCNJ's Klimowicz added nine points in the first stanza with six rebounds. She surpassed the 1,000 career rebound plateau in the first half, needing just three to hit the mark.

TCNJ would take a 43-32 lead with 10:40 left in the game as the team went on a 17-6 run, spurred by the play Klimowicz who tallied five baskets. DeSales would fight back and pull within two points, down 44-42 with 6:45 left to play. TCNJ would maintain their lead and go on a 9-2 run as they held a 53-44 lead with 2:49 left. Klimowicz would hit a pair of free throws for the Lions at 2:17 and gave her team a 55-44 lead.

For the Lions, junior Alexandra Gregorek (Mahwah, NJ/Academy of the Holy Angels) was the only other player in double-digits as she finished with 12 points with a pair of blocks. Sophomore guard Keri Washington (Ewing, NJ/Pennington Prep) added nine points. TCNJ would finish with 17 turnovers after committing 10 in the first half and shot 40.7% from the floor (24-59), while holding DeSales to a 34.5% effort from the floor (20-58).

Burke would finish with 23 points after hitting six three-pointers. Rookie Cherelle Simmons (Lancaster, PA/JP McCaskey) added 12 points for the Bulldogs and a team-high eight rebounds.

TCNJ advances to the regional championship game on Saturday, March 7 at Moravian College at 7:00 p.m. against the winner of the Moravian-Tufts game yet to be completed this evening.