UNION, N.J. - Junior guard Sara Villanueva scored a career-high 27 points to help lead the Lewis & Clark women's basketball team over Kean University 81-71 on Sunday afternoon in the final game of the Kean Tournament.
The No. 25 Pioneers are now 3-0 on the season after finishing the Kean Tournament 2-0. Kean, who is ranked 24th in the nation, picks up its first loss of the season to fall to 2-1 overall.
Villanueva was selected the tournaments Most Valuable Player. Junior Kristina Williams made the All-Tournament team.
Villanueva finished the game 10-14 from the free-throw line, while scoring 15 points in the second half alone. Williams scored 16 points for the Pioneers hitting 6-of-10 from the field. Seniors Neva Hauser and Megan Spence each finished the contest with nine points.
Naimah Clemons led the Cougers with 24 points and teammate Simone Smith ended the day with 22 points.
The game opened as a tightly contested battle with the Pioneers never allowing the Cougars more than a basket advantage. Kean eventually built a seven point, 30-23, advantage with 6:41 to play on a Smith layup.
Shortly after Kean gained its largest advantage of the half, the Pioneers surged back to score eight straight points to take their first lead since the opening minutes of the contest. The lead would not last long as the Cougars pushed the lead back to five points with a little over a minute left in the half. With just seconds left the Pioneers tied the game at 41-41 on a Williams three pointer. A last minute basket by Smith sent Kean into the half with a 43-41 lead.
Kean opened the second half on a 7-0 run to take a 50-41 lead. The Cougars picked up their largest lead of the game with 13:57 remaining on a three point play by AnnaRose Pierre who hit her layup while being fouled.
The Pioneers would continue to pressure the Cougars, trimming the lead in half with five consecutive points, followed by a 15-2 run to take a 71-65 advantage. Hauser contributed seven points in the run, including a clutch three-pointer that tied the contest.
Back-to-back Villanueva free-throws with 1:18 remaining handed the Pioneers their largest lead of the game with the Pios ahead 79-67. Kean would hit a couple baskets in the final minute of the game, but it would not be enough to earn a Cougar comeback.
Lewis & Clark returns to action on Wednesday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. at home as Concordia (Ore.) comes to the Pamplin Sports Center. Admission to the game is free, but a canned food or new toy donation is encouraged.