UNION – The Kean University women’s basketball team used a 31-6 run spanning the first and second halves to erase a double-digit, as the Cougars defeated The College of New Jersey, 72-56, in the New Jersey Athletic Conference opener for both teams on Wednesday evening.
Sophomore Naimah Clemons scored a game-high 22 points and added five steals, as the #4 Cougars (5-0, 1-0 NJAC) made 24 steals and scored 30 points off of 31 TCNJ turnovers.
For the Lions (2-3, 0-1 NJAC), senior Alexandra Gregorek and junior Jessica Imhoff each led TCNJ with 11 points and six rebounds
After the Cougars scored the first eight points of the game, TCNJ used a 22-4 run to build their largest lead of the game at 22-12 with just over 10 minutes remaining in the half. Imhoff opened the run with a jumper, and after her three-pointer gave the Lions their first lead at 11-8, freshman Liz West closed out the run with a fast break lay-up for the 10-point edge with 10:40 remaining.
The Cougars answered with six straight points, all on lay-ups, before the Lions extended the lead back to eight points on a pair of occasions, the last at 33-25 with 29 seconds left on a pair of foul shots by Imhoff.
Kean closed the half with five points in the final 16 seconds, as Clemons knocked down the Cougars’ only three-pointer of the first half and senior forward Angelica Bermudez scored on a put-back as the first half ended to pull Kean to within 33-30 at the break.
Imhoff led all scorers in the first half with nine points, while Gregorek added seven points and four rebounds for the Lions. For Kean, Clemons dropped in seven points and rookie Emily Cristaldi and Bermudez each added six points.
The two teams traded baskets to open the second half before the Cougars scored 14 straight points to erase a three-point deficit and take the lead for good with an 11-point advantage at 46-35 less than five minutes into the second half.
A 10-2 run by the Cougars pushed the lead out to 17 points, before the Cougars would lead by as many as 18 points on three occasions en-route to the 16-point victory to open the NJAC season.
Senior forward Tiffany Patrick finished with a double-double, as she had 10 points and 11 rebounds, while also adding five blocks and four steals. Cristaldi chipped in with 13 points, four steals and three assists and junior Danielle McFadden had eight points, seven rebounds, three assists and two steals in 14 minutes off the bench.
For the Lions, sophomore forward Candace Vigo had 10 points off the bench and junior guard Katie Occhipinti dished out a game-high five assists.
The Cougars travel to New Jersey City University for a NJAC doubleheader on Saturday, December 4. Tip-off is at 2 p.m.
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