LINCROFT – In contrast to the men’s NJCAA Division III championship basketball game, which was a thriller down to the wire, Saturday’s NJCAA Region 19 Women’s championship game resulted in an easy win for Brookdale Community College.
The top-seeded Jersey Blues coasted to a 71-54 triumph over Cumberland County College.
It was the sixth Region 19 title for the Jersey Blues, who last won in 2011. During that season, the team finished third nationally.
Despite both teams having just two losses apiece, the game was marred by a total of 50 personal fouls – 25 for each team – and lasted more than two hours. Injuries also slowed the game.
BCC, which still had more than enough to triumph with its superior size and tight defense, was in control of the game from the start.
“We beat Cumberland twice this year by about 10 points both times,” BCC coach Bob Dubina said, “but we thought that it would be a war and a closer game.
“Marina Lukianov had a phenomenal game and Sam (Samantha) Carlson had a great first half to get us started. I couldn’t be prouder of these guys.”
BCC won the game despite two of its top players going down with injuries. Paxton Reddington, a sophomore who played at St. John Vianney, suffered a twisted knee just 15 seconds into the game while it’s top all-around player, Jasma Stanback of Keansburg, went out early in the second half with a high ankle sprain.
Another standout was Lauren Bowler, who played basketball and soccer at Red Bank Regional. She scored a game-high 19 points, grabbed nine rebounds, had three assists and two steals. She was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
“I think that was my high game of the season,” said Bowler, who also played on Brookdale’s national championship women’s soccer team last fall. “Scoring doesn’t matter, winning the game was more important. I can’t get enough of it.
“I’ve had several college offers,” she said, “but I haven’t made any decision as of now.”
BCC trailed just once, 1-0, but Carlson, a 6-foot-2 sophomore from Manalapan, who was dominant inside the post, scored the next 6 points and BCC never looked back.
“This was one of my best games,” said Carlson, who scored 13 points in the first half. “I was playing with greater intensity tonight.”
BCC opened up a 16-5 lead and Cumberland never got closer than 7 points the rest of the game.
Brookdale moves onto the next round Thursday, March 13, in Rochester, Minn. where it will play at the UCR Regional Sports Complex against an opponent to be named.
Eight of the Brookdale players are local with Bowler and Marya Trapp having played at Red Bank Regional. Kimberly McNelis, Nadya Szaniszlo, Stanback and Samantha Hosey live in Keansburg while Megan DeGrushe is from Middletown.