Heading into Monday’s Martin Luther King Day matchup at the United States Merchant Marine Academy, the Elizabethtown College women’s basketball team was right in the thick of the Landmark Conference playoff race. Sitting in the fourth and final playoff spot, one game ahead of fifth-seeded Drew University, the Blue Jays squared off with the Mariners for the second and final time this season. The first meeting at Thompson Gymnasium back on Dec. 12 ended with a 56-36 Etown victory which included senior guard Rachel Forjan’s 1000th career point.
Forjan, who received a basketball to commemorate her 1000th point before their previous home game against Goucher, has torn up Landmark defenses in recent games. In her last four games, dating back to the Blue Jays 75-65 loss to Landmark unbeaten Moravian, Forjan is averaging just over 26 points per game, going for a new career high for points in a game in back-to-back contests.
Forjan’s most recent performance lifted the Blue Jays to a 76-58 victory at USMMA to help Etown improve to 6-3 in the conference. She enjoyed her best shooting percentage from the field this season, finishing 12-18 from the floor and four of six from beyond the arc, torching the Mariner’s for a career-high of 30 points.
Forjan spoke about what it’s like to be in a groove out on the court. “I try not to overthink my shot. It comes in the flow of the offense. Our team has become pretty efficient in running our offense and when all five of us on the court are moving together, my shot has a better chance at going in.”
The Blue Jays received a solid performance from junior center Emily Martin who finished with 12 points and pulled down eight rebounds. Martin just narrowly missed her 10th double-double of the season.
Etown’s starters combined for 64 of the team’s 74 points with senior Alyssa Aichele and first-year Abby Beyer pouring in nine points each in the victory. Junior Marissa Gingrich contributed seven points off the bench, including going a perfect four for four from the foul line.
Looking ahead, Forjan knows this team can compete not only for a playoff spot, but a chance to earn a championship.
“We have very high expectations for the rest of the season. We have played all of these teams already and we know what we have to do differently the second time around to beat them,” Forjan said. “In this conference, anything can happen. There is no significant leader. Any team has the opportunity to make it to the top.”
The Blue Jays were scheduled to travel to Selinsgrove on Saturday to face Susquehanna University in a Landmark Conference tilt, but winter storm Jonas affected college basketball games across the Northeast. After rescheduling twice, the Crusaders and Blue Jays determined the storm had too large of an impact to play this weekend. The game will be made up at a later date.
The Blue Jays next game will be Saturday afternoon when undefeated Scranton comes visits Etown. Tipoff is scheduled for 4p.m. Last time the two teams met up, Scranton defeated the Blue Jays, who were without four key players.
“This game is going to be completely different. Not having everyone hurt us, but we also saw how Scranton likes to play and we will be prepared for them the second time around,” Forjan said. “Scranton is a beatable team, and when we play at our best, I know we can be the one to knock them from the top spot.”