TCNJ stuns second-ranked Kean
The College of New Jersey Athletics
Ewing, NJ -- The College of New Jersey pulled off a stunning upset at Packer Hall as they knocked off second-ranked Kean University 68-65 on Wednesday night.
Senior Stephanie Prall knocked down a free throw with 15.5 seconds remaining to give the Lions a 66-65 lead before junior Hannah Tait iced the game with a pair of foul shots to give the Lions a thrilling triumph.
The Cougars (17-3, 8-1 NJAC) saw their eight-game winning streak come to an end, dropping their first NJAC contest of the season. It was their first regular season conference loss in 21 games, a testament to their dominance in the NJAC over the past two seasons. That last regular season loss came at Packer Hall when they fell to the Lions 73-61 on February 18, 2009.
TCNJ was the better team on the floor from start to finish as they established control of the game in the opening half, increased their lead midway through the second half, and held off a frantic Kean push in the final minutes.
Head coach Dawn Henderson could spread the praise up and down the Lion's roster as the contest was packed with key moments from a variety of players. Four Lions reached double figures led by senior Alex Gregorek who had 12 points and seven rebounds. Junior Jessica Imhof also had 12 points and four assists.
Prall finished with 11 points in 11 minutes of play off the bench while freshman Tiffany DeTulio added 10 points and five rebounds.
The Lions played well from the get-go holding a 40-34 advantage at the half. They set the tone early gaining a 20-12 lead midway through the period. A pair of Imhof 3-pointers got the Lions rolling while strong play off the bench from sophomore Candace Vigo sparked the offense.
Gregorek and Imhof each reached double figures in the first half as TCNJ shot 53 percent from the floor. Kean struggled to establish a rhythm on offense and had trouble hitting its shots making just nine of their first 34 attempts.
The half ended with a sign of good things to come for the Lions as Prall knocked down a 28-footer at the buzzer to send her teammates into the locker room full of optimism.
Kean erased the six-point deficit in the second half at the 15:55 mark when Simone Smith dropped in a lay-up to go up 43-42. The Lions got the response they needed from DeTulio as she drained a 3-point shot and followed with a running jumper to regain a four-point cushion. Tait converted on a pair of free throws and TCNJ was back ahead by six.
TCNJ mounted their largest lead when Prall banked in a lay-up to go up 59-48 with 8:32 to play. Kean clawed their way back behind the tremendous play of Naimah Clemons. She finished with a game-high 23 points while grabbing five boards.
The Cougars would not go quietly and fought all the way back to knot the game at 65 with 1:10 remaining on a basket by Clemons.
Prall and Tait, however, came through at the charity stripe when it was needed most to seal the victory.
Freshman Emily Cristaldi had 12 points for Kean while Smith and senior Angleic Bermudez finished with eight points each.