UNION – Freshman guard Emily Cristaldi scored eight of her team-high 18 points in overtime, as the Kean University women’s basketball team overcame a double-digit second-half deficit to defeat DeSales University, 69-65, in overtime in non-conference action on Wednesday evening.
Cristaldi knocked down a pair of three-pointers to open the overtime session and sealed the win with a pair of free throws to keep the #4 Cougars (7-0) undefeated.
For the Bulldogs (4-4), senior Lori Lidlow scored a game-high 22 points and knocked down two foul shots with 0.1 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime.
The Cougars controlled the overtime session, as Kean scored the first eight points of the extra session behind Cristaldi’s three-pointers and a lay-up by senior Angelica Bermudez. DeSales trimmed the deficit to four points following a jumper by senior Megan Montchyk and two free throws from Lidlow, before Cristaldi sealed the win by knocking down both of her free throw attempts with 12 seconds remaining. Junior Cherelle Simmons hit a lay-up as time expired for DeSales for the final points of 69-65 Kean win.
The Bulldogs used a 7-1 run early in the second half to extend their lead to 11 points at 38-27 on a jumper by sophomore Colleen Gavin with 16:07 left in the game. However, the Cougars quickly answered with nine straight points, as sophomore Naimah Clemons had back-to-back lay-ups to close out the run and pull the Cougars to 39-36 less than three minutes later.
Kean would tie the game for the first time since the opening half when Bermudez had a lay-up to pull the Cougars even at 40-40 with 12:10 left. The next nine minutes of the game would feature three lead changes and five ties, before the Cougars would take a 54-52 lead with 3:09 left on a pair of foul shots by Cristaldi.
The Bulldogs answered with a three-pointer by Montchyk to regain the lead one final time, however Bermudez put the Cougars back ahead with a lay-up with 1:39 remaining. Clemens extended the lead to 57-55 when she converted 1-of-2 foul shots, but the Bulldogs tied the game on a lay-up by Montchyk with just 11 seconds left.
It appeared the Cougars won the game when junior Briana Winston rebounded the missed three-pointer by junior Brittney Powell and made the lay-up with just 0.1 seconds remaining, however the Kean bench celebrated on the court, resulting in an administrative technical and Lidlow calmly knocked down both free throws to force overtime.
In a back-and-forth first half, the Bulldogs scored the final five points of the half to take a 29-23 lead at the break. Lidlow scored 11 first-half points for DeSales, while Cristaldi had eight points for the Cougars.
In the victory, Clemons finished with a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds and added four assists and four steals, while Bermudez chipped in with 10 points and six rebounds. Junior Danielle McFadden grabbed 11 rebounds and Winston chipped in with nine points, seven rebounds and three blocks off the bench.
For DeSales, Lidlow was a perfect 12-of-12 from the foul line, while Simmons had a double-double with 10 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Gavin finished with 14 points and three steals.
The Cougars have a week off, before they travel to Division I Rutgers University on Wednesday, December 15, at the Louis Brown Athletic Center. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m.
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