William Patterson Athletics

WAYNE, N.J. – Pioneer junior guard BriAnna Lucas scored a career-high 31 points, but No. 3 Kean (17-2, 8-0 NJAC) was able to hold off a second-half charge by No. 21 William Paterson (17-3, 6-2 NJAC) for a 79-64 victory in a clash of New Jersey Athletic Conference women’s basketball divisional leaders.

Lucas scored 21 of her points during the second half to help spark a William Paterson surge that cut a 19-point halftime deficit to a nine-point margin at 53-44 with 10:04 remaining. Down by a 49-30 count with 16:29 on the clock, WP went 3-for-4 from the free throw line, followed by a Lucas 3-pointer. The two teams traded free throws before Naimah Clemons converted a layup, handing the Cougars a 53-38 lead with 13:43 to play.

Freshman Jewell Palmer was fouled after a Pioneer miss and sank a pair from the charity stripe and after a Lucas 2-for-2 trip to the stripe, William Paterson was within 11 at 53-42. Each team missed a field goal and was charged with a turnover before Palmer drained a jumper, cutting Kean’s lead to single digits at 53-44 with 10:04 remaining.

The Cougars’ Brittanie Payne missed a trey that was rebounded by junior forward April Smith but a Lucas turnover and Payne steal led to a WP foul. Payne made both from the line, the start of a 12-0 Kean run that put the Cougars back in control at 65-44 with 7:03 to play. The Pioneers answered with a 12-2 spurt of their own, but Kean scored the next six points during a 61-second span for a 73-56 lead with 3:13 on the clock.

Lucas was 7-for-10 from the charity stripe and 4-for-8 from 3-point range for her 31 points, adding seven rebounds and four steals. Smith added 11 tallies and seven boards, while freshman guard Floriana Borova contributed nine points off the bench.

Clemons paced the Cougars with 25 points. Payne scored 17 and dished out seven assists, and freshman Emily Cristaldi contributed 12 tallies and six rebounds.

The Cougars got off to a hot start, jumping out to a 14-2 lead less than five minutes into the contest thanks to 6-of-10 shooting. Kean entered the locker room with a 40-21 advantage behind 41.5 percent (17-41) first-half shooting while limiting the Pioneers to a 7-for-30 (.233) effort.