MORRISTOWN, N.J. (NJCUGothicKnights.com) | After three quarters, the New Jersey City University women's basketball team (1-0) and the College of Saint Elizabeth (1-1) were knotted up at 43-43. However, thanks to tight defense and improved communication in the final 10 minutes of its first game of the season, the Gothic Knights rattled off the first 21 points of the fourth quarter—outscoring the Eagles 29-5 in the period—in what became a 72-48 blowout victory for NJCU on November 13 at Saint Joseph Hall.
The Gothic Knight offense started slow but picked up steam throughout the night, scoring more in each subsequent quarter of their season opener. On the flip side of things, the fourth was also their best quarter defensively, holding the Eagles to just two made field goals, compared to 12 turnovers in the final 10:00.
For NJCU, it was their captains—both transfers who were making their debuts in the green and gold—who propelled them all night, with senior guard Hannah Johnson (Jersey City, NJ/Saint Dominic Academy) stuffing the stat sheet with 23 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, four steals, four charges drawn, and a block, while her junior backcourt partner, Alexandria Sams (Burlington City, NJ/Pennsauken), had a deadly efficient game, tallying 18 points on just 12 shots (7-12 FG), with three steals, and two rebounds, blocks, and assists apiece. She was 4-of-8 from three-point distance.
"Hannah was great for us all night," second-year head coach Patrick Devaney, Sr. said. "And Alexandria was able to get the ball successfully out to players on the wing."
Redshirt-freshman point guard/center Jasmine Reese (Jersey City, NJ/Hudson Catholic) also reached double digits in her redo rookie-season debut, scoring 10 points while pulling down seven boards. Rakiyah Sellers (Newark, N.J.) led the way for Saint Elizabeth with 14 points, while Kamani Williams (Middletown, N.J.) dominated the glass with 17 rebounds to go with her seven points.
Early in the game, the Knights battled foul trouble, as a lack of communication and hustle proved costly in a 13-8 first quarter edge for the Eagles. In fact, there was plenty that the NJCU coach didn't love about the first 30 minutes of the game.
"The first three quarters were horrible," Devaney said. "We were playing like robots. We had way too many turnovers, and we weren't communicating or boxing out."
However, the final frame saw the Knights flip the switch, most importantly in regards to the team's chatter.
"They turned it around in the fourth," Devaney explained. "They started communicating, and they got more aggressive."
Devaney highlighted the play of junior power forward Ayanna Lewis (Willingboro, NJ/Burlington County institute of Technology), who came on in the second half, and "played her tail off," and credited senior point guard Aaliyah McCrae (Paterson, NJ/Manchester Regional) with providing the energy for the whole team to feed off.
That energy allowed the Knights to start to get out in transition with greater regularity in the second half, as the Knights caused 25 turnovers and had 32 points off those giveaways for the night.
The Eagles led 41-39 with 2:15 remaining in the third quarter before the Knights took off for the runaway victory.
- Series: 14th meeting, NJCU now leads 13-1, and has won the last 12 meetings.
- Despite a significant height advantage, the Knights were out-rebounded, 46-40 on the night.
- The Eagles got to the free throw line more than twice as many times as the Knights but went only 16-of-31, compared to NJCU who went 9-of-14.
- The Gothic Knights travel to Amherst, Mass. to face off with the No. 1 ranked team in the country, Amherst College in what will be the season opener for the Mammoths. The game will take place on Sunday, November 17, with tip-off scheduled for 3:00 p.m. It will be the second consecutive year the schools meet and the first time NJCU has ever faced the No. 1 ranked team in the D3hoops.com national poll.
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