The Signal

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Monday April 15th

TCNJ women’s basketball wins in NJAC semifinals

<p><em>Senior captain Izzy Leazier with the ball (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Gladstone / Multimedia Coordinator).</em></p>

Senior captain Izzy Leazier with the ball (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Gladstone / Multimedia Coordinator).

By Tyler Morello
Staff Writer

The College’s women's basketball team improved to 18-8 after their win in the New Jersey Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals and will be playing for the conference title on Feb. 23 against New Jersey City University. They were able to win comfortably against Ramapo College at Packer Hall this past Tuesday night, 70-50. 

The College secured the No. 1 seed in the tournament after winning the tiebreaker for first place with NJCU, and they were given a first-round bye because of it. Ramapo was the fifth seed and defeated fourth seeded Stockton University on the road to get to the semifinals. 

The Lions struck first against the Ramapo Roadrunners, quickly going up 5-0 after a three-pointer from fifth year senior Julia Setaro and a jump shot from fifth year senior Natalie Kolb. After a shot made by Ramapo to make the score 9-7, the Lions went on a 14-0 run powered by three straight three-pointers. They had a controlling 23-7 lead late in the first quarter before the Roadrunners put together a run including a buzzer-beater three-pointer from senior Jada Thompson, cutting the lead to eight, 25-17. 

The College held Ramapo scoreless over the first four minutes of the second quarter and was able to capitalize by going on a 12-0 run, increasing the lead to 37-17. Ramapo closed the gap slightly to make it 39-24 at a 2:33 timeout, but found themselves trailing 42-24 at the half. 

The third quarter started off back-and-forth, with both teams trading buckets. The Roadrunners were slowly beginning to chip away at the deficit, making it 51-36 at a 2:44 timeout, then shortly after that 53-41, and then 55-44 after a completed and-one from Jackie Ventricelli. Setaro hit two free throws at the end of the quarter, and the Lions were up 57-44 heading into the fourth. 

One of the biggest strengths for the Lions of late has been their play in the fourth quarter, and they were able to continue this trend, immediately going on a 10-1 run to go up 67-45 midway through the quarter. The Lions were able to close out the game 70-50, securing their spot in the championship on their home court. Ramapo finished the season with a record of 16-11.

Setaro continued her stellar play from the regular season and led the game with 24 points, including going 9-9 from the free-throw line.

“From the get-go, our team was so hyped to play this game and I think our energy and excitement became a huge factor in the way we played,” Setaro said. “We were celebrating each other in big moments and that momentum carried out throughout the whole game.”

Outside of Setaro, the Lions had a rather balanced scoring attack, with eight players scoring at least two points. Junior Nina Branchizio had 10 points while being the primary ball-handler for the Lions, and senior Kaitlyn Deiter had seven points with 11 rebounds. Jada Thompson of Ramapo finished with a 19-point 10-rebound double-double.

With their focus now turned to Friday, the Lions will try to come out on top against a good New Jersey City University team, who has defeated the Lions in the past three playoffs. 

The Lions last played the Gothic Knights away on Jan. 20 and won 69-68. Their other meeting this school year was on Dec. 2 at Packer Hall, where the Lions fell 69-62. Both teams have a completely different aura since then, with the Lions winning 10 of their last 11 games, and the Gothic Knights winning nine of their last 10.    

“Our mindset is to take the game quarter by quarter. We know there’s gonna be a lot of energy in the atmosphere and we definitely want to use that to our advantage,” Setaro said about the upcoming championship. “Especially since this is the first time we are hosting the NJAC Championship, we still want to stay composed and play like we have all year.” 

The Lions are looking to bring the NJAC trophy back to Ewing for the first time since 2009. 


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