Smith Scores 22 on Senior Night

UNION, N.J (2/19/14)Simone Smith led all scorers with 22 points on her senior night as the Kean University women's basketball team completed the regular season with a 73-64 victory over Rutgers-Newark on Wednesday night.

The Cougars fed Smith the ball in the post early and often. She converted an easy layup for the first points of the night, and the next trip down the floor led to another lay-in for Smith. She wound up scoring the first six points of the night for the Cougars.

Solid three-point shooting kept Rutgers-Newark right in the game, and the score was tied at eight six minutes in.

Kean went ahead after that on layups by Essence Casey and AnnaRose Pierre; 14 of Kean's first 18 points were from the paint.

The Cougars stayed ahead until the 7:25 mark, when a three-pointer by Arianna Williams put the Scarlet Raiders ahead briefly. Smith responded with another layup, but Jamie Cejour-Mobley knocked down back-to-back three-pointers to give Rutgers the advantage once again.

At 3:49, Pierre intercepted a pass in her own zone and returned it all the way back for an easy layup that swung the lead back to Kean.

A few minutes later the Cougars found themselves trailing again, but Jazmine Davis hit two-straight shots in the post to help Kean head into the locker room tied at 35.

Kean was dominating under the basket, with 26 point in the paint during the first half, but poor free throw shooting by the Cougars (6-16 in the first) allowed RU to hang around.

Jaquetta Owens broke up the Raiders' first possession of the second period with a steal and a fast-break layup, but Rutgers scored the next five points. Pierre ended that stretch with back-to-back field goals, but RU answered on their next opportunity to take a one-point lead again.

Pierre (pictured left) continued to play a big role; she scored nine-consecutive points and had a total of 11 in a four-minute stretch as Kean suddenly and convincingly held a 10-point lead. It was the largest either team had enjoyed the entire night.

Williams cut the lead down to one possession on a three-pointer at the seven-minute mark; it was the Raiders' seventh trey of the game.

Kean built its lead back up to seven on a layup by Smith; that shot gave her 20 points on the night.

After Rutgers got back within three, Aysha Harris created open space in the lane for a nice running jumper that kept Kean ahead. The Cougars held a five-point advantage as the clock slipped under two minutes.

What sealed the game for Kean was Pierre's big block on an RU three-point attempt with less than a minute to go. The rest of the game was academic as the Cougars hung on to move to 14-11 and 11-7 in the NJAC. Rutgers-Newark fell to 10-15 and 6-12 in the league. Jade Howard led the visitors with 21 points.

The women's basketball team will host the opening round of the NJAC Tournament on Saturday inside Harwood Arena. The opponent and time will be announced shortly.