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College Basketball:
Rutgers-Camden Week In Review

Monday, February 16, 2004

By Mike Ballard
RutgersCamden Sports Correspondent

Kelly Stafford (Gloucester, NJ/Gloucester)

For the second consecutive week, freshman guard Kelly Stafford earns Raptor of the Week honors after averaging 18 points in a pair of games, shooting 57.9 percent (11-for-19) from the floor, including 50 percent from three-point range (5-for-10) and hitting nine of 14 shots from the foul line (64.3 percent). She had a career-high three steals and added 11 points in a loss at William Paterson Feb. 11, then collected a career-high 25 points as the Raptors defeated previously-unbeaten Keystone College Feb. 13.


Wed., Feb. 11 William Paterson University 53, Rutgers-Camden 51
Fri., Feb. 13 Rutgers-Camden 84, Keystone College 69


Thurs., Feb. 19 Montclair State University 7 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 21 at The College of New Jersey 1 p.m.

It was a week of mixed results for the Lady Raptors, who saw the bid to defend their New Jersey Athletic Conference crown end in a 53-51 loss at William Paterson Feb. 11, but bounced back to defeat previously-unbeaten Keystone College, 84-69, Feb. 13.

Leading the way was freshman guard Kelly Stafford (Gloucester, NJ/Gloucester), who scored a career-high 25 points to power Rutgers-Camden past Keystone in the non-conference game in Camden.

Stafford, whose previous career high was 20 points against Trinity College (D.C.) on Nov. 23, scored 17 of her points in the second half as the Lady Raptors dropped Keystone to 16-1.

Junior center Crystal Lucas (West Deptford, NJ/West Deptford) notched a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds, while senior guard Erin James (Gloucester, NJ/Gloucester) added a double-double with 11 points and 10 assists.

The 10 assists gave James 127 for the season as she moved into third place on the program’s all-time single-season assist chart. She passed Tamara Carey, who notched 122 assists during the 1994-95 season. The 10 assists also gave her 306 for her career, allowing her to become only the third Lady Raptor to collect 300-plus career assists.

Sophomore forward Megan Rulon (Sewell, NJ/Clearview Regional) added a game-high 13 rebounds and notched nine points.

The Lady Giants led throughout most of the first half, including leads as large as seven points (23-16, 25-18 and 32-25) before the Raptors battled back, aided by five straight points from sophomore forward Karen Carter (Pennsauken, NJ/Pennsauken) and back-to-back baskets by sophomore guard Lisa Geiger (Gloucester, NJ/Gloucester). Geiger’s first basket gave the Raptors their first lead, 34-33, and her second one gave them a 36-35 halftime lead.

Trailing, 58-55, midway through the second half, the Lady Raptors took the lead for good with a 12-0 run, sparked by a three-pointer from Rulon. Zimmitt added five straight points in the run, while Lucas and Stafford finished the run with field goals.

Junior center Julie Lasher notched 20 points for the Lady Giants, while junior forward Nicole Zapolski had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. The 10 rebounds raised her career total to 721, only 10 shy of the school mark of 731, set by Michele Huff (1997-99).

Junior guard Bobbie Arvonio added 15 points for the Giants, while sophomore forward Amanda Dawson and junior guard Amy Davis also notched 10 points apiece.

Two days earlier, freshman Luci Custis hit the go-ahead driving lay-up with 57.2 seconds left and senior Kat McPhail iced the game by converting a free throw with 6.2 seconds remaining, as William Paterson defeated Rutgers-Camden, 53-51, in Wayne..

The loss eliminated Rutgers-Camden from a chance at defending its NJAC championship. The Lady Raptors fell to 4-7 in the NJAC with two conference games remaining. They are fourth in the Blue Division, three games behind Paterson (7-4), which clinched the third and final NJAC playoff spot in the division. It marks the first time the Pioneers have qualified for the NJAC playoffs since 2000, and the first time the Lady Raptors have been shut out of the conference tournament since that same season.

William Paterson survived despite going 7:23 in the second half without a field goal. Rutgers-Camden missed a shot in the lane just before the buzzer.

Custis, who tied for game-high honors with her 17 points, gave the Pioneers a 52-50 lead with her winning layup. Her layup came 16 seconds after Rutgers-Camden’s Stafford hit a foul shot with 1:13 remaining to tie the game at 50-50.

McPhail and freshman Melissa Moore contributed 10 apiece for the Pioneers.

James tied for game-high honors in three categories, collecting 17 points, five steals and three assists. Rulon notched a double-double with 12 points and a game-high 10 rebounds.

William Paterson took a 27-25 lead at halftime after Rutgers-Camden closed the half on a 13-5 run. In the second half, neither team led by more than four points. James hit both ends of a one-and-one to give the Scarlet Raptors a 49-48 lead with 2:00 left before McPhail hit a scoop lay-up 20 seconds later to help the Pioneers reclaim the lead.

Stafford finished with 11 points for the Lady Raptors.


Wed., Feb. 11 William Paterson University 82, Rutgers-Camden 60
Fri., Feb. 13 Rutgers-Camden 90, Keystone College 85


Wed., Feb. 18 Montclair State University 7 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 21 at The College of New Jersey 3 p.m.

Senior guard Gene Mergenthal (Sicklerville, NJ/Highland) scored 23 points and added 11 assists, and freshman guard Dane Nicholson (Pleasantville, NJ/Holy Spirit) added a career-high 21 points to lift Rutgers-Camden over Keystone College, 90-85, in a non-conference game Feb. 13 in Camden.

The victory snapped a five-game losing streak for the Raptors, despite a remarkable performance by Keystone junior forward Destin Scott, who notched game-high totals of 33 points (on 12-for-19 shooting) and 14 rebounds. The 14 rebounds raised his career total to 644, setting a new school record for the Giants. He passed the old mark of 633 held by former teammate Lamont Jones (2000-2003).

In a tight game which saw four ties and four lead changes in each half, the Scarlet Raptors took the lead for good, 81-80, on a layup by Mergenthal, which was part of a six-point late-game run.

The Raptors built an 87-82 lead before Keystone’s sophomore forward Andre Stone drained a three-pointer to cut the gap to 87-85, but foul shots by junior guard Tyrone Rucker (Pennsauken, NJ/Pennsauken) and Nicholson iced the victory.

Mergenthal’s 11 assists, one shy of his career high, raised his season total to 109 as he became only the second player in program history to notch a pair of 100-assist seasons. He had 110 last year. Mergenthal joins Dan McClain, who accomplished the feat during the 1990-91 and 1992-93 seasons, on the select list. McClain, the program’s all-time leader with 348 assists, is the only Rutgers-Camden player with more career assists than Mergenthal’s 314.

Nicholson, meanwhile, broke his previous career scoring high of 20 points, set against SUNY-Farmingdale Dec. 1.

The Raptors also received 18 points from senior guard Jonathan Jean-Louis (North Brunswick, NJ/North Brunswick) and 12 points from junior forward Mike Hopson (Gloucester, NJ/Gloucester).

Mergenthal had nine rebounds – barely missing a triple-double – to pace the team, while Nicholson added eight.

The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Giants (8-17), who received 13 points from Stone and 13 rebounds from sophomore forward Robert Cash, in addition to Scott’s huge performance.

It was the Raptors’ second win of the year against Keystone, including an 80-77 overtime thriller in La Plume, PA, Dec. 17.

Earlier in the week, the Raptors didn’t have as much success in an 82-60 loss at William Paterson University Feb. 11.

Senior Brandon Constantine buried four three-pointers and scored 14 of his game-high 22 points in the first half to power the Pioneers past the Raptors in NJAC Blue Division action.

It was the fifth straight loss for the Scarlet Raptors. The Pioneers, who snapped a four-game losing streak, established their season highs in points, assists (23) and margin of victory (22). It was the most points scored by William Paterson since an 84-67 win, also over Rutgers-Camden, on Dec. 5, 2001.

In addition to his 22 points, Constantine notched a game-high five three-pointers and tied junior teammate Tim Benoit with a game-high with four steals. Senior Rory Caswell added 17 points, 10 rebounds and three steals.

Mergenthal and Nicholson each scored 13 points for the Scarlet Raptors.

William Paterson raced to a quick 24-10 lead in the first 10:42, behind eight points from Constantine, six from Caswell and five by sophomore Mario Rivero. The Pioneers led 37-25 at halftime, and built their margin to as many as 36 points in the second half.

Senior Khayri Battle finished with eight points, five assists, four rebounds and two blocked shots for Paterson.

For Rutgers-Camden, freshman Tim Genovese (Erial, NJ/Baptist) and Hopson each scored nine points. Jean-Louis collected a team-high five rebounds for the Raptors, who were out-rebounded, 42-31.

©2004 South Jersey Sports Online Inc.