UNION, N.J. – Fifth-seeded William Paterson (15-11, 10-8 NJAC) pulled out a 91-83 overtime victory at fourth-seeded Kean (15-11, 10-8 NJAC) Feb. 20 in the first round of the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Women's Basketball Tournament.
The Pioneers advance to play at top-seeded Montclair State (19-6, 15-3 NJAC) Tuesday, Feb. 23, at 7:00 p.m. in the semifinal round.
Senior guard Brittany Harden (Millville, N.J./Sacred Heart) posted career highs of 29 points and eight assists, chipping in nine rebounds while shooting 10-for-21 (.476) from the field. All but two of her points came after halftime, including 11 during the overtime period. Senior forward Alex Milne (Howell, N.J./Howell) knocked down eight of 11 shots (.727) for 21 tallies while collecting 13 boards, sophomore guard Jackie Rodriguez (Sayreville, N.J./Sayreville War Memorial) contributed 17 points, and junior guard Nikole Williams (Valley Stream, N.Y./Valley Stream Central) had 11 tallies and six caroms.
WP stormed out to a 26-12 lead by the end of the first quarter, but the Pioneers went cold during the second, allowing the Cougars to put together a 14-3 run and cut William Paterson's lead to three by the break, 33-30.
The Pioneers stretched it back to a nine-point margin following a Kean foul and technical (46-37, 6:04), but the Cougars scored the final five points of the third quarter and trailed by just one (52-51) to open the fourth.
Kean took its first lead of the game at the 6:50 mark of the fourth on a Marajiah Bacon three-pointer (60-59), but Harden answered with a steal and fast-break layup 55 seconds later. Bacon and Milne exchanged buckets, Rodriguez made it a three-point game with her jumper (65-62, 4:11), and Bacon drained another trey to knot the score at 65-65 with 3:42 left.
A pair of Bacon free throws, a 1-for-2 trip to the stripe by Milne, and layups by Bacon and Harden left it a 69-68 Kean edge with 1:20 on the clock. Each team had a miss, and a Pioneer turnover and foul put Cougar junior Jaquetta Owens on the line. She made both attempts (71-68, 0:26), and two more turnovers left it WP's ball with 17.6 seconds left. Coming out of the timeout, Rodriguez collected a pass and fired a three-pointer from the left corner, draining it for a 71-71 score (0:13). Kean had one final attempt but missed from beyond the arc, sending the teams to overtime.
Each team converted a field goal before a Harden three-point play, two Rodriguez free throws and an Eden Obou three-point play for Kean resulted in a 78-76 Pioneer advantage with 3:41 on the clock. Harden followed with a layup, the Cougars made three of four from the charity stripe, and Milne made the first of two free throws during the 90 seconds, then Bacon tied the game with a jumper at the 2:41 mark (81-81). Harden's 2-for-2 trip to the stripe and Obou's jumper left it an 83-83 game with 1:59 to play, Milne banked in a layup, freshman guard Ashley Castillo (Ridgefield Park, N.J./Ridgefield Park) rebounded a Kean miss, and Harden turned it into two points with her jumper in the paint, pushing the Pioneers ahead by an 87-83 count with 1:02 remaining. Harden was fouled after a defensive rebound, making both (89-83, 0:35), and Castillo sank a pair after rebounding a final Cougar miss (91-83, 0:25).
Bacon scored 37 points for Kean, and Owens collected 26 tallies. Obou finished with 12 points and 13 rebounds.