Jackrabbits’ fire sparks a warm ‘Frost’ for NJIT

Ariy-El Boynton

Ariy-El Boynton

The Lady Jacks took another step toward the Women’s National Invitation Tournament with a victory on Thursday night. In front of 1,309 fans, the Jacks’ dueled the New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders. With a healthy dose of domination, SDSU demolished the Highlanders, 96-30, improving to 17-5 on the season. With the loss, NJIT fell to 3-19 on the season.

The Jackrabbits came out on a strong 7-0 run to start the game, with two early layups from Andrea Verdegan and Jennifer Warkenthien. A basket by New Jersey’s Aine O’Dwyer cut the Jacks lead to five points. But after the bucket, it rained baskets for the Jacks, while the rim had a lid on it for the Highlanders. Using consecutive 3-pointers by Megan Vogel and back to back layups by Abby Kratovil, the Lady Jacks went on 17-0 run mid-way through first half. The half ended 43-10 in favor of the Jacks.

The Lady Jacks did not let up in the second half, outscoring their opponent by 33 points, finishing the game with a 66-point victory.

The temptation to overlook a team with such a weak record (3-18) could have been easy for the Jacks, but the team did not.

“New Jersey (Institute of Technology) is a good team and we prepared very hard and took them very seriously,” proclaimed Vogel.

Overall, the victory was a team effort, with all but one Lady Jack scoring in the game. Vogel led the way with 25 points, while Kratovil and Maria Boever contributed 12 points each.

Head Coach Aaron Johnston said he was pleased and proud of his team, and had praise for the three-frontcourt freshmen, in particular, Alison Anderson.

While the offense was amazing, scoring the second highest total all year, the most impressive facet of the game for the Jacks was their defense.

The Highlanders used play calling by indicating, “thumbs up or thumbs down,” but due to the hustle of the Jackrabbits, it did not matter thumbs up or down. NJIT could not go anywhere without a Jackrabbit in their face.

The Jacks’ pesky “D” had 13 steals, with Verdegan, Courtney Grimsrud, Ashlea Muckenhirn and Laura Nielsen getting two steals a piece, while Vogel led the team with three.

The team as a whole forced NJIT to play 30 feet from the basket, and to play frustrated. The Highlanders were denied access to the key, which forced many turnovers, 23 on the game, and to take long shot attempts.

Johnston said the last two games the “defense played really well.”

“The team really focused on the defensive side of the floor,” he said. “(They) wanted to get better defensively.”

The Jacks used smothering defense, especially on Kelly Crowe, the second highest career point leader for NJIT. She only scored two points, with at least one Jack on her shadow at all times.

Rebounding was another area the Jacks dominated. The Jacks outrebounded the Highlanders 56-30, and nearly doubled the Highlanders’ offense rebounds, 20-11. Ketty Cornemann, Morgan Meier and Boever all had seven rebounds, while Vogel grabbed eight boards. Kathryn Wighton had a game-high 12 rebounds for the Highlanders.

Although the rebounds were one-sided, what separated the Jacks from the visitors was putting the basketball in the hoop.

One Jackrabbit fan noted, “You guys (NJIT) are really good at passing.” The Highlanders used motion offense effectively, but most of the action was 30-feet away from the hoop. Baskets and assists were difficult for NJIT. The Highlanders shot only 20.7 percent for the game, while the Jacks hit 49.3 percent of their shots. NJIT had only five assists, compared to 23 for SDSU.

The game had a feel of senior night at the HPER, with chants of “Megan Vogel” numerous times. Vogel moved into third place on the all-time Jacks scoring list, with 1,696 points for her career. Vogel had such a good night, that after she missed a free throw, she got her own rebound, and seconds later, nailed a 3-pointer. It was just that kind night for Vogel. On another occasion, Vogel yelled “short” after she shot a free throw, yet the free throw was still good.

The Jacks next battle Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. in Frost Arena.