ELIZABETH, NJ - It showed that it was the first game of the season for the New Providence girls basketball team.

The Lady Pioneers struggled offensively, but got hot late in the third quarter and pulled away on the road against Elizabeth. The result was that New Providence won its season opener, 36-22, over Elizabeth at the Dunn center on Friday afternoon.

New Providence senior forward Emma Culleton and senior guard Sara Lowenstein led the way with nine and eight points respectively while junior guard Cassandra Squeri and senior forward Marta Gosiewski added seven and six points respectively.

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Both Culleton and Sarah Lowenstein were happy to get the first game and win out of the way. "It's good to get the win in the first game and we had some jitters today," said Culleton.

For New Providence, they struggled in the middle portion of the contest, but were able to hit their shots early and late in the game.

After taking a 14-7 lead in the first quarter, New Providence's first game shooting struggles came in the second and third quarters before Elizabeth came back to tie the game at 16 late in the third quarter behind a bucket from Selia San-Kaphadaline.

After tying the game at 16, Elizabeth called a time out and that seemed to be the tonic for the Lady Pioneers. After the timeout, New Providence put on a three-quarter press, Culleton would be the recipient and scored seven of their nine points in the last two minutes of the third quarter.

Culleton finished off a 10-point Lady Pioneers run after completing a three-point play with a free throw with 3.6 seconds remaining in the third quarter. “It was a great momentum with that run,” said Lowenstein. "We never gave up even though we were not hitting our shots."

While the shots weren’t falling for New Providence, their patented defense was shutting down Elizabeth and kept the Pioneers at least ahead of Elizabeth.

"Even when the shots were not going down, we were still playing good defense and we were still in the game," said Culleton. "We knew that the shots were going to fall."

With the win, New Providence has one of its toughest games in the Union County Mountain division on Tuesday when they travel to Cranford on Tuesday at 4 p.m. "It's going to be a tough game and they have all of their starters back from last season," said Lowenstein.

"It's going to be a tough game and they have all of their starters back from last season," said Lowenstein.

New Providence 2011-12 girls basketball schedule

(Games at 7 p.m. unless noted)

Dec. 20         Cranford, 4 p.m.

Dec. 27         at Summit Hilltopper Tournament, 4:30 p.m.

Dec. 29         at Summit Hilltopper Tournament, 4:30 p.m.

Jan. 3            Oak Knoll

Jan. 6            Johnson

Jan. 9            at Roselle Park

Jan. 13          Plainfield

Jan. 14          at Governor Livingston

Jan. 19          Union Catholic

Jan. 20          at Dayton

Jan. 24          Elizabeth

Jan. 26          Cranford

Jan. 27          at Oak Knoll

Jan. 31          Governor Livingston

Feb. 2            Johnson

Feb. 3            at Union Catholic

Feb. 7            Dayton

Feb. 9            at Hillside

Feb. 10          Roselle Catholic

Feb. 22          at Somerville