Monday, February 9, 2004
By Mike Ballard
RAPTOR OF THE WEEK
Freshman guard Kelly Stafford notched 25 points off the bench in a pair of huge conference wins for the Lady Raptors basketball team last week. In a 64-62 victory against The College of New Jersey Feb. 4, Stafford paced the team with 14 points, including consecutive three-pointers in the second half that lifted Rutgers-Camden from a 41-40 deficit to a 46-41 lead. In a 56-51 win at New Jersey City University Feb. 7, Stafford added 11 points, including a 9-for-13 performance from the foul line. She also had five rebounds.
WOMEN’S BASKETBALL (9-12/4-6)
Wed., Feb. 4 Rutgers-Camden 64, The College of New Jersey 62
Wed., Feb. 11 at William Paterson University 8 p.m.
The New Jersey Athletic Conference regular-season race is coming down to the wire, and the defending champion Lady Raptors are refusing to go quietly.
Rutgers-Camden posted a pair of close NJAC wins last week against divisional rivals to keep its hopes alive for the third and final playoff spot in the Blue Division. The Raptors edged The College of New Jersey, 64-62, in Camden Feb. 4 on a put-back by sophomore guard Lisa Geiger (Gloucester, NJ/Gloucester) with one second remaining. Three days later, Rutgers-Camden posted another narrow win,
56-51, at New Jersey City University as sophomore forward Megan Rulon (Sewell, NJ/ Clearview Regional) tied her career high of 18 rebounds.
In the win over TCNJ, Geiger grabbed the rebound off a missed shot by senior guard Erin James (Gloucester, NJ/Gloucester) and scored with one second remaining for the thrilling victory. In a second half which featured nine lead changes, Geiger’s shot provided the winning margin after James hit a pair of foul shots with 38 seconds remaining to tie the game at 62-62.
TCNJ, which trailed by as many as 10 points (58-48) in the second half, fought back to take a 62-60 lead with 1:29 remaining on a jumper by senior forward Laura Mala.
SCARLET RAPTORS REPORT 2-2-2-2
The teams changed leads five times in the opening half before TCNJ took a 30-28 lead on a pair of foul shots by junior forward Theresa DiMedio with nine seconds left in the half. DiMedio led the Lions with eight first-half points, while sophomore guard Deanna Cuozzo added six. For Rutgers-Camden, Rulon had seven points and sophomore guard Carmen Zimmitt (Woodstown, NJ/Woodstown) added six in the opening half.
Freshman guard Kelly Stafford (Gloucester, NJ/Gloucester) collected 14 points to tie DiMedio for game-high honors. Stafford’s offensive output included back-to-back three-pointers in the second half which lifted the Raptors from a 41-40 deficit to a 46-41 lead.
Zimmitt finished with 13 points, while James canned 12 and set a career high with 11 assists. Rulon added 11 points, tied DiMedio for game-high honors with nine rebounds, and added a game-high four blocked shots.
For TCNJ, DiMedio had her 14 points and nine rebounds, while senior center Adrienne Warner added 11 points.
In the win at NJCU, Rulon tied her career rebounding high of 18 and added five blocked shots to give the Lady Raptors their second straight win.
Rutgers-Camden, which has won the last nine games between the two schools, appeared to be well on its way to an easy victory when it opened with a 15-2 lead, increased the margin to 22-7 and held a 29-19 halftime lead.
With 9:33 remaining, the Lady Raptors led, 40-29, before the Gothic Knights mounted a strong comeback. NJCU tied the game at 46-46 with 4:08 left on a three-pointer by sophomore guard Latrese McNair.
Rulon gave the Raptors a 48-46 lead at 3:36, but the Knights tied the game again on a put-back by freshman forward Dar-Neshia Joyner.
Rutgers-Camden took the lead for good, 50-48, on a layup by junior center Crystal Lucas (West Deptford, NJ/West Deptford) with 2:41 remaining. Rulon tacked on a pair of free throws with 24 seconds remaining to help clinch the win.
James finished with 13 points for the Raptors, while Stafford added 11, including 9-for-13 from the foul line.
Rulon’s 18 rebounds 16 off the defensive boards tied her career high set against Lincoln University Jan. 11, 2004. Sophomore forward Karen Carter (Pennsauken, NJ/Pennsauken) added nine rebounds, while Zimmitt collected nine points.
Junior guard Erika Cubile scored a game-high 15 points for NJCU, while McNair added 12 points, five assists and six steals. Joyner paced the Gothic Knights with 12 rebounds.
MEN’S BASKETBALL (4-17/2-8)
Wed., Feb. 4 The College of New Jersey 94, Rutgers-Camden 77
Wed., Feb. 11 at William Paterson University 6 p.m.
Bad things came in threes for the Scarlet Raptors during an 0-3 week on the court which included NJAC losses to The College of New Jersey (94-77, Feb. 4) and New Jersey City University (104-55, Feb. 7), sandwiched around a non-conference defeat at Philadelphia Biblical University (106-91, Feb. 5).
In the week’s final game, senior forward Samar Battle collected 26 points and added 11 rebounds, and 13 New Jersey City University players found the scoring column to power the Gothic Knights over the Raptors.
SCARLET RAPTORS REPORT 3-3-3-3
It was the fifth time the Scarlet Raptors have allowed 100 or more points this season, including the second straight game and third time in four outings. The Raptors also were held to a season-low 55 points, one fewer than their output in a 78-56 loss against Widener Dec. 8. The 55 points were the fewest at Rutgers-Camden since a 78-55 loss at Montclair State Feb. 12, 2003.
The Gothic Knights, who hit the century mark for the first time since a 117-78 win at Medgar Evers College Dec. 21, 2002, clinched the No. 1 seed in the Blue Division for the upcoming conference tournament.
It was the fourth straight loss for the Raptors, who have lost 32 of the last 33 meetings against NJCU, which holds a 42-4 lead in the all-time series.
NJCU, the top-ranked team in the NCAA Div. III Atlantic Region, raced to a 52-30 halftime lead. The Gothic Knights outscored the Scarlet Raptors, 29-5, in the opening 10 minutes of the second half.
Battle went 10-for-17 from the floor, including 2-for-3 from three-point range, for NJCU. Junior guard/forward Javier Rodriguez notched 13 points and sophomore guard Alex Mirabel added 12 for the Gothic Knights.
NJCU shot 39-for-64 (60.9 percent) from the floor, including 20-for-29 (69.0 percent) in the second half. The Gothic Knights also held a 64-31 advantage off the boards.
For the Scarlet Raptors, senior guard/forward Jonathan Jean-Louis (North Brunswick, NJ/North Brunswick) turned in a career game with personal highs of 21 points and 12 rebounds, giving him his first double-double at Rutgers-Camden. Jean-Louis' previous highs were 14 points, coming twice this season, and six rebounds at York (NY) College Jan. 19, 2004.
Two days earlier, on Feb. 5, sophomore center Jeremy Coleman poured in 45 points on 19-for-23 shooting from the floor to power Philadelphia Biblical University over Rutgers-Camden, 106-91, in a non-league game in Langhorne, PA.
The Crimson Eagles took a 55-40 halftime lead on their way to scoring 106 points. It was the most points allowed by Rutgers-Camden since a 114-57 home loss against Richard Stockton College Jan. 26, 2000.
PBU placed three other players in double figures, in addition to Coleman, who also added a game-high 17 rebounds, including 12 defensive boards, dished off four assists and blocked a game-high three shots. Freshman guard Chase Byler notched 18 points, while sophomore forward Dave Booher collected 15 points and six assists. Sophomore guard Flor Colon notched 11 points for the Crimson Eagles.
PBU shot 38-for-61 for the game (62.3 percent), while Rutgers-Camden went 34-for-70 (48.6).
The Scarlet Raptors were paced by senior guard Gene Mergenthal (Sicklerville, NJ/Highland), who collected a career-high 27 points, shooting 8-for-12 from the floor, including one three-pointer, and 10-for-14 from the foul line. Mergenthal also added eight rebounds and five assists, both team highs.
Mergenthal’s previous career high was 25 points, coming at Rowan November 25, 2003.
Junior guard Tyrone Rucker (Pennsauken, NJ/Pennsauken) scored 17 points for Rutgers-Camden, while Jean-Louis scored 14 points to tie his previous career high, which was set against William Paterson University Jan. 14, 2004. Freshman guard/forward Dane Nicholson (Pleasantville, NJ/Holy Spirit) notched 13 points and freshman guard Tim Genovese (Erial, NJ/Baptist) canned 12.
In the week’s first game, The College of New Jersey posted a 94-77 win Feb. 4 in Camden as junior guard Derick Grant scored a game-high 25 points to lead five players in double figures.
Sophomore forward Scott Findlay added 18 points, a game-high 13 rebounds and a career-high six assists for the Lions. It was the Lions’ 33rd win in their last 34 games against Rutgers-Camden, with the only Raptor win coming in overtime, 95-60, in Camden Jan. 30, 2002, snapping a 30-game TCNJ winning streak in the series.
The Lions also received 17 points from junior center Derek Brown, 14 points from junior guard Kyle Burke and 10 points from junior guard Mike Snyder. TCNJ took a quick 9-0 lead before the Raptors rallied to cut the gap to 13-12. That was the closest they came, as the Lions went on a 10-2 run on the way to a 39-26 halftime lead. Burke scored 12 of his points and Snyder notched all 10 of his points in the opening half.
Mergenthal had another fine night for the Raptors with a team-high 20 points and a career-high 12 assists. He also added seven assists.
Rucker notched 18 points, including six treys. Genovese scored a career-high 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting, including 5-for-8 from three-point range, while Nicholson added 14 points for Rutgers-Camden.
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