Kean ready to contend for NJAC crown

More news about: Kean | Montclair State
Ruby Asabor and Kean established themselves as the top contender for Montclair State's NJAC crown by beating Stockton 67-59 on Saturday.
Photo by Kean athletics 

The Kean women’s basketball team showed its potential last year with regular-season wins over Montclair State and Rowan. This year, the Cougars have put themselves in position to accomplish more. Kean (10-5, 7-1 NJAC) enters Wednesday’s game at No. 17 Montclair State (14-1, 7-1) tied with the Red Hawks for first place in the NJAC standings. 

Sophomore guard Marajiah Bacon is Kean’s undisputed star. As the Atlantic Region Rookie of the Year, she led the nation in scoring as a freshman with 24.7 points per game and is averaging a league-high 22 this season. Against Lehman on Nov. 19, she had a game-high 39 points with seven three-pointers. She outscored Lehman senior guard Amely Del Rosario, who leads the nation this season with 25.6 points per game, by 12 points. 

Bacon had another big game at TCNJ on December 3, scoring 37 points in a 58-56 win. Against Stockton on January 14, she had a game-high 28 points.

“I can’t imagine being on the other side trying to figure out how to stop her,” Kean head coach Mandy King said.

Kean also has a standout freshman in center De’Mean Bond, who has appeared in all of Kean’s games and started the last three. In Kean’s December 30 loss to Colby, she had 12 points, 10 rebounds, six steals, and two blocks off the bench. In the win over William Paterson on January 11, Bond made six of nine field goals and finished with 14 points and a career-high 20 rebounds. She also made three blocks and two steals. Bond is averaging 9.5 points and a team-high 11.6 rebounds per game. 

“She’s been playing really well all year long,” King said.

Kean’s only conference loss this year came against Montclair State in November. Four Red Hawks scored in double figures, and Montclair State pulled away in the fourth quarter to earn a 62-53 win. Bacon led Kean with 16 points.

Kean enters Wednesday’s rematch with a three-game winning streak. Montclair State, meanwhile, suffered its first loss on Saturday at TCNJ.

Another loss to the Red Hawks would not doom Kean’s season. A win over Montclair State, however, would make a huge statement.

“The championship is going to run through them,” King said of the Red Hawks. “In order for us to accomplish our goals, we’re going to have to go through them.”

Around the Region 

The Ramapo men’s basketball team is no longer undefeated after falling to New Jersey City University in overtime, 76-71, on Saturday. Ramapo stayed at No. 13 in the Top 25 this week, while New Jersey City rose from No. 24 to No. 22 after the upset, despite losing to Stockton last Wednesday. Ramapo remains atop the NJAC standings at 8-1 in conference play. 

In CUNYAC women’s basketball, Brooklyn suffered its first conference loss on Jan. 14, 72-56 at Staten Island. Brooklyn and Staten Island are each 7-1 in CUNYAC play, tied for first place. On the men’s side, Staten Island is in sole possession of first place with an 8-0 record in CUNYAC games.

The showdown between the DeSales and FDU-Florham women for first place in the MAC Freedom ended up being no contest. The Devils led wire-to-wire and jumped out to a 29-13 lead at the end of the first quarter. FDU Freshman Kendrea Williams, whom we featured last week, scored 18 points but seniors Alyssa McDonough (19 points, 15 rebounds) and Rachel Groom (13 points, 10 rebounds) were the real show. The Bulldogs will get another crack at FDU when they host the Devils on February 4.

The men's side of the MAC Freedom has a logjam at the top with DeSales, Eastern, Delaware Valley and FDU-Florham carrying 3-1 records. FDU is the surprise since the Devils had three wins total in conference the last two seasons combined. They've won three straight, including a 74-67 victory over DeSales.

Farmingdale State defeated Mount St. Mary 85-67 tonight to improve its record to 6-0 in the Skyline and push the Knights two games back. George Riefenstahl posted a double-double for the Rams, who have a 1.5 game lead on Yeshiva. The Maccabees get their crack at Farmingdale State next when they host the Rams next Monday after a three-week layoff. Mount St. Mary leads the women's race with a one-game lead over Sage and Mount St. Vincent.

Finally Neumann continues to lead the CSAC. The Knights bounced back from a non-conference loss to Rutgers-Camden with wins over Immaculata and Centenary (N.J.). Neumann's last two major hurdles to an undefeated conference run come at home when Gwynedd-Mercy and Cabrini head to the Mirenda Center. And, after a painful non-conference season in which Cabrini went 2-7, the Cavaliers are back atop the CSAC women's standings. Cabrini hosts second-place Marywood on Saturday in the only game between those teams in the CSAC's unbalanced schedule.

Sarah Sommer

Sarah Sommer is a freelance journalist in New York City. She began writing for 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