Florham freshman shoots to the top of conference

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Kendrea Williams leads the MAC Freedom in scoring with 18.8 points per game and she's in the top four for field goal (.483), free throw (.796) and three-point field goal (.326) percentage.
FDU-Florham athletics photo 

 

After Kris Jenkins hit the buzzer-beating three-pointer that gave Villanova the 2016 NCAA Division I men’s basketball championship, FDU-Florham women’s basketball head coach Marc Mitchell called Kendrea Williams. Mitchell discussed the shot—specifically, Jenkins’ confidence when taking it—with Williams, an incoming FDU-Florham freshman guard.

“I said, ‘That’s what I want from you,’” Mitchell said.

Williams leads the MAC Freedom in scoring with 18.8 points per game, and she is a major reason that FDU-Florham is 11-2, 2-0 in conference heading into this week's games at King's and home against DeSales.

“My main goal is to contribute to this team,” Williams said. “It feels good.”

For Mitchell, it’s a start.

“I don’t know how many shots she’s averaging per game,” he said—it’s a team-high 13.7—“but whatever it is, it’s not enough.”

Mitchell does not have specific numbers in mind for Williams’ field goal attempts or points per game. “I just want her to have a certain mindset,” he said. “Mindset should be, ‘I’m going to score, I’m going to score a lot, and there’s nothing you can do about it.’”

That mindset does not come naturally to Williams, who is quiet and deferential by nature. But she is scoring quite a bit. Her worst performance—eight points—came in FDU-Florham’s season opener against Gettysburg on Nov. 18. Since then, Williams has scored in double figures in each of the Devils’ games. She had a game-high 23 points against Misericordia on Saturday, making eight of 13 field goals. Her career-high 29 points came at Moravian on Nov. 29. She made four three-pointers and 11 free throws in that game.

Senior captain Alyssa McDonough has seen Williams improve from their time playing AAU ball together to now.

“She’s shooting way more,” McDonough said. “She just looks more confident as a player.”

Though Williams is soft-spoken, McDonough said, “as soon as she gets on the floor, she becomes this aggressive little person.”

Williams had a game-high 25 points against Catholic on December 30, with a career-high seven three-pointers. She went six-for-eight from beyond the arc in the second half.

“I’ve never seen the ball in and out of her hands so quickly over the years that I’ve seen the young lady play,” Mitchell said of Williams’ performance that day. “It was so fluid, and so pure.”

Mitchell wants to see that more often. Early in the second quarter against Misericordia, Williams faked a shot, attempted to drive along the left baseline, and traveled. To Mitchell, the first part of the sequence was the biggest problem.

“Just shoot it!” he yelled from the sideline.

Williams has room for improvement in other areas as well. She did not completely follow the scouting report against Misericordia, Mitchell said, letting an opponent drive right whom she was supposed to force left. She could also increase her rebounding.

But Williams is a shooter, and more than anything else, Mitchell wants her to act like it.

“We’ve had some great shooters here,” Mitchell said. “And then there’s Kendrea. And it’s like, ‘Dre, you’re in that class. So you need to understand that and just keep shooting the ball.’”

Scarlet Raptors on the rise?

 After starting the season with nine losses, the Rutgers-Camden men’s basketball team has won two consecutive games.

“I guess you could call it a streak,” head coach Jason Curbison said, laughing, in a phone interview on Tuesday. “Sure.”

The latest victory, on Monday, was gargantuan: a 68-67 upset of No. 17 Neumann (12-1, 6-0 CSAC). On Saturday, the Scarlet Raptors beat winless Kean 68-56.

Despite Rutgers-Camden’s lopsided record (2-9, 1-6 NJAC), its recent success is not entirely surprising. The Scarlet Raptors were competitive in their three one-possession losses. They led then-No. 19 (now No. 13) Ramapo by 20 points at halftime on Jan. 4 before losing by eight.

Rutgers-Camden travels to Montclair State on Wednesday.
 
In other NJAC action, No. 13 Ramapo remained undefeated (13-0, 7-0 NJAC) after a 98-90 win over the College of New Jersey on Saturday, while No. 24 New Jersey City (12-2, 6-1) followed its first conference loss (48-46 at Montclair State on Jan. 4) with an 89-72 win over Rowan on Monday. Those teams meet in Jersey City on Saturday afternoon.


Sarah Sommer

Sarah Sommer is a freelance journalist in New York City. She began writing for D3hoops.com in March 2015, when she covered the women's NCAA Tournament. She is excited to continue covering Division III basketball as the Atlantic columnist.
2011-2015 columns: See Around the Atlantic/Mid-Atlantic