New Jersey

Women’s Basketball Clipped at Kean

UNION, NJ – The TCNJ women’s basketball team took league leader Kean to the end in a thrilling NJAC duel on Wednesday night, eventually coming just short in a 57-52 decision.

The Lions (13-8, 8-6) led by just a few seconds in the first half and rarely fell behind by more than one possession throughout the evening. After Katie Fricker Kean knocked down a 3-pointer to play it at 46 with 5:34, Kean went on a 6-0 run over the next 4:37 and maintained his one-game lead at the top of the NJAC standings.

With the loss, TCNJ found themselves in a three-way tie for fourth place with Ramapo and William Paterson, the latter coming to Packer Hall on Saturday.

For the second time in as many games Nina Branchizio opened the scoring with a 3-pointer. The Cougars (13-8, 11-3) responded with a but of their own Julia Setaro scored a quick run of five unanswered points and the Lions controlled the rest of the opening quarter. Setaro, Emily toysand Kaitlyn Deiter Each had two field goals in the first frame, and Deiter’s hard-hitting put-back gave TCNJ an 18-10 advantage.

A transition triple from Branchizio stretched the span to double figures (23-13) early in the second, but Kean rallied and ended the first half with an 11-0 run topped by a Shannon McCoy triple, to go to the dressing room with a 29 -28 lead.

Kean threatened to pull away in the third game, twice leading by as much as six points, but the Lions refused to let them split, finishing the stanza at 41 after another Branchizio triple knotted at 2:09.

The fourth quarter was tight, with neither side able to dent the scoreboard until more than two and a half minutes had passed. Fricker scored the first five points of the quarter for TCNJ, who leveled the score once but could never get past the hump, and the long scoring drought following Fricker’s 3-point tie proved crucial.

Izzy Leaziers Turn 3 cut Kean’s lead to 55-52 with 11.3 seconds left, but Kean star Shannon McCoy smashed down both free throws at the other end to thwart it.

McCoy finished the tournament with 26 points and added seven rebounds, while Macy Seaman hit a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds and Kayla Anderson added a dozen of her own.

Branchizio played every 40 minutes for the Lions, scoring a team-high 12 with four 3-pointers and dishing out four assists. Setaro and Deiter each had 10 points and Izzy Leazier seven produced.

Fricker had a strong game with five points, a team-high six rebounds and four assists, while Toy dished out four assists to go with four points.

TCNJ shot 45.8 percent from the field (22 of 48) but only shot two free throws — both missed — and turned it over 23 times, resulting in 21 Cougar points.

The Lions return to Packer at 1:00 p.m. Saturday to take on the Pioneers.

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