Ewing, NJ…The College of New Jersey women’s basketball team hosted the Cougars of Kean University in the championship game of the 2008 New Jersey Athletic Conference tournament in Packer Hall on Friday evening before a crowd of a thousand. Kean would repeat as the league’s champions, earning the program’s 12th title since winning the league’s first championship in 1982-1983. Kean would improve to 25-3 on the year, while snapping TCNJ’s eight-game win streak as the Lions drop to 21-6. Kean would take a 2-1 lead in the season match-ups of the two squads. Kean, ranked 13th in the latest Division III poll, tallied their third straight victory on Friday as they posted the road win.
The Cougars were led on the night by five different players that finished in double-digits, while a pair of players added double-doubles in the contest. Pacing Kean was junior guard Melissa Beyruti (Union City, NJ/Union Hill) as she tallied 17 points and senior center Chari’ Cooper (Paulsboro, NJ/Paulsboro) added 11 points and 18 rebounds.
Kean would take a commanding 36-19 halftime lead into the locker room as sophomore guard Cardiss Jackman (Tobyhanna, PA/Pocono Mountain West) contributed 10 points and Cooper added 11 first half rebounds, including seven offensive boards. Kean would hold a 32-23 edge on the board and despite shooting only 31.0% from the floor in the first stanza (13-42). Jackman would hit twice from three-point range and help Kean have a 17 point lead twice in the first half after TCNJ took the early lead in the first six minutes of play.
Kean would build a 20 point lead to open the second half, but TCNJ would not go away and pulled within eight points, down 53-45 at 9:55. Kean answered right back and quickly built a 15-point lead up 60-45 with 7:31 left to play. TCNJ was back within eight points, down 63-55 at 2:02 before the game ended with a 70-61 Kean victory.
Cooper added 18 rebounds on the night and currently ranks third all-time in NCAA Division III women’s history as she now has 1,471 rebounds.
Junior guard Ebony Jackson (Newark, NJ/Malcolm X Shabazz) would move within one of setting Kean’s career assist mark as she now has 465, just off the school mark. Jackson added 10 points and four steals in the game.
TCNJ’s junior center, Hillary Klimowicz (Scotch Plains, NJ/Scotch Plains-Fanwood), the 2007-2008 NJAC Player of the Year, finished the night with a career-high 28 points, while finishing 17 rebounds for her 20th double-double of the season. The 28 points betters her previous high of 24 points, set just 10 days ago.
Senior Sara Best (High
Bridge, NJ/Voorhees) also connected a double digit scoring performance as she
netted 11 points and now 718 career points. TCNJ’s freshman Kelsey Kutch
(Hillsborough, NJ/Hillsborough), the 2007-2008 NJAC Rookie of the Year, added
eight points with 10 rebounds and handed out four assists.
TCNJ must now wait until the NCAA Division III tournament announcement on March 3 and hope for an at-large pool “C” bid.
Official Basketball Box Score
Kean University vs The College of New Jersey2/29/08 7 p.m. at Ewing, NJ (Packer Hall)