CALDWELL, N.J. – The Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) women's basketball team (22-4, 14-3 CACC) came up just short against the Caldwell Cougars (22-4, 15-2 CACC) on Saturday afternoon in an NCAA DII Basketball Showcase on WatchESPN by a final of 69-59.
The matchup featured the No. 5 Cougars and the No. 7 Rams in the most recent NCAA Regional Rankings released earlier this week.
Jefferson led by as many as 11 points in the first half but Caldwell was able to erase the deficit to win by 10 in the battle between the CACC South and North squads.
Jefferson turned Caldwell turnovers into easy baskets, taking a 10-point lead into the second quarter, 24-14. The Rams had nine points off Caldwell miscues and got eight points off the bench in the first quarter.
Caldwell outscored the Rams in the second quarter, 18-12, as Jefferson took a 36-32 advantage into halftime. Eight different Rams had points at the break led by redshirt sophomore Alynna Williams with nine followed by redshirt junior Erin Maher with six, as she hit both of her three-pointer attempts.
Caldwell evened the score, 37-37, before a Cougar steal and layup gave them the lead, 39-37, in the early stages of the third quarter. Caldwell stretched its lead up to four midway through the third. A last-second tip-in to end the quarter gave Caldwell a six-point lead heading into the fourth, 50-44.
After scoring 24 points in the first quarter, the Rams were held to just 12 in the second and eight in the third as Caldwell made defensive adjustments.
Redshirt freshman Caitlyn Cunningham hit a three to start the fourth to get the Rams within three, 50-47. But the Cougars then went on an 8-3 run to go up by eight, 58-50, forcing Jefferson to call a timeout with 5:50 to play.
Caldwell took their largest edge of the game, 60-50, with under five minutes on the clock. Jefferson cut that deficit in half, 64-59, with 1:22 to play after an offensive rebound and putback by redshirt junior Jessica Kaminski. But that was the closest the Rams would get as the Cougars hit five free throws to end the game, 69-59.
Jefferson shot 39.6% from the floor (21-of-53), 27.8% behind the arc (5-of-18) and 66.7% from the line (12-of-18). Caldwell outrebounded the Rams, 40-34. Jefferson committed 19 turnovers to Caldwell's 15, though both teams had 14 points off those turnovers.
Kaminski led the Rams with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting and 4-of-7 from the free-throw line. The Philadelphia native also grabbed seven boards with three assists, two steals and a block as her presence was felt all over the floor.
Williams finished with 12 points, six rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Cunningham had nine points off the bench with six rebounds and two steals.
Jefferson Women's Basketball returns to action on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at Goldey-Beacom at 6 p.m. The men's game follows at 8 p.m.