Feb. 28, 2010

Courtesy of Caldwell

CALDWELL, N.J. - A sellout crowd in the George R. Newman Center, as well as a national television audience, watched the Caldwell College women's basketball team defeat Bloomfield College, 68-61 in the regular-season finale Saturday afternoon. The victory, which was televised live by CBS College Sports Network, allows the Cougars (15-11 overall, 11-8 CACC) to qualify for the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament, which begins next week. The Lady Deacons fall to 11-14, 11-7 CACC.

The first half remained close, with four lead changes and three ties. Bloomfield used baskets by Regina Washington and Tiffany McDaniel to build its largest lead of the half, 27-21 with 5:27 left in the first period. Junior guard Kirsty Leedham (Ellesmere Port, England/Cheshire Acad.) scored all of Caldwell's points in an 8-2 run to close out the half. Her three-pointer with 23 seconds left tied the game at 29-29 heading into the break. The Cougars shot just 31.3 percent in the first half compared to 48.1 percent for Bloomfield.

With the game still tied at 34-34 early in the second half, Caldwell scored 10 straight points, including six from Leedham, to take its largest lead of the game, 44-34 with 13:32 on the clock. But Bloomfield reeled off a 12-2 spree to knot the score for the sixth time in the game, 46-46 midway through the second half. The Cougars then broke a 49-49 deadlock with an 11-1 run, sparked by four points apiece from Leedham and freshman guard Torey Jones (Providence, RI/LaSalle Acad.), that restored Caldwell's 10-point advantage at the 3:28 mark. The Lady Deacons pulled to within four points with 23 second remaining but would get no closer, as the Cougars defeated Bloomfield for just the third time in the last 16 meetings. The win also ended a five-game losing streak to the rival Lady Deacons.

Caldwell's shooting percentage improved in the second half to 41.7 percent while holding Bloomfield to 30.3 percent after halftime. The Cougars also went 18-of-24 (75.0 percent) from the free throw line in the second half and enjoyed a 32-16 edge in free throw attempts for the game. Caldwell also scored 33 points off 24 Bloomfield turnovers.

Leedham tallied a season-high 33 points while making 14-of-16 from the charity stripe and swiping three steals. Jones finished with 16 points and two steals, while sophomore forward Kaitlyn Lambert (Cumberland, RI/Cumberland) had a team-best 10 rebounds and three steals. McDaniel registered 13 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks to lead the Lady Deacons.

The game was played in front of packed bleachers on both sides, with Caldwell fans dressed in white and Bloomfield fans in maroon. The game marked the first time a Caldwell College athletics event was broadcast on national television.

Caldwell's win, coupled with Felician's loss at Holy Family and Dominican's victory at Goldey-Beacom, means the Cougars will play at the top seed in the North Division. Nyack wraps up the CACC North Division with a win over Georgian Court on Sunday. Bloomfield can finish in first with a win at Wilmington and a Nyack loss. The first round of the CACC Tournament is on Tuesday, Mar. 2. Caldwell College will serve as the host of the CACC semifinals and finals on Mar. 5-6.