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EWING, NJ – The TCNJ women’s basketball team turned a tight NJAC clash with Rowan into a runaway rivalry with a dominating second half Wednesday night, imposing their will on both ends of the court en route to a 71-52 victory.
nina branzio led three players in double figures and Izzy Leazier scored a double-double for the Lions (5-2, 2-0), who outscored the Profs by 15 after halftime and led by double digits for nearly the entirety of the second stanza.
TCNJ held Rowan, the No. a dozen own triples at the other end. The Profs finished with more turnovers (18) than shots from the field (16), and the Lions converted those errors into 23 critical points.
Setaro dished out a season-high seven assists for TCNJ, who assisted on 17 of his 22 shots from the field.
Branchizio was on target early, taking a deep step back to put the Lions up 8-5 and firing another from the right wing to tie it at 11 on TCNJ’s final possession of the first quarter.
Down 13-11 after one, the hosts began the second stanza in an 8-2 run capped off by a shot pass from Setaro to morgan hellerwhose quick left-handed layup came just in time to beat the shot clock buzzer.
The lead changed hands several times until the closing minutes of the half, when a 10-1 run put the Lions in command. kaitlyn deiter tied it at 26 on another dime by Setaro, and Izzy Leazier he made two free throws on each of the next two trips to open up a four-point lead. The lead increased to six when TCNJ broke the Profs’ pressure for an easy bucket as Leazier found Deiter open at the rim for a lay-in, and a late basket by Rowan gave the Lions a 32-28 lead in Rest.
Leazier lived on the line in the first half, making all but one of his eight tries.
The Lions put the game out of reach with a blitz early in the third quarter, draining a trio of 3-pointers to extend the lead to 41-28 before the Profs finally snapped a long point drought.
Rowan, however, never managed to get back within single digits. sidney blum connected home with a deep jumper and Branchizio made another direct attempt, this time on a kick from Heller, to make it 46-30 just after the middle of the quarter. A corner kick from Leazier ended Rowan’s brief 5-0 lead and restored a 14-point lead (49-35).
TCNJ ended the game with the first seven points of the quarter, starting with a follow-up from Deiter and following with five quick points from Setaro, whose jumper in the paint made it 58-37 with 6:56 to go. The Lions led by as many as 25 (64-39) on a three-pointer by Katie Fricker.
Branchizio made five 3-pointers en route to his career high, while Leazier grabbed 11 defensive rebounds for his first career double-double. Setaro landed on 12 points to go with seven assists and four rebounds.
Deiter (six points, four rebounds, four assists, three blocks) and Blum (five points, five rebounds) were effective in the paint, aided by Heller and Isabelle Cafaro (four points each).
After some early turnovers, the Lions settled in and continually capitalized on Rowan’s aggressive pressure, racking up 15 fast-break points.
The Lions head to preseason favorite New Jersey City on Saturday for a rematch of last year’s NJAC title game.