After the loss to eventual New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) champions Montclair State in the NJAC tournament and not reaching the NCAA Division III tournament, the Rowan women’s basketball team’s season is officially over. The team finished with a an 18-9 record, it’s third consecutive season with more than 15 wins.
The Profs were down one at halftime against Montclair, but a huge run by the Red Hawks opened things up. The Profs lost the game 67-76. Looking back on the game, head coach Gabby Lisella said that the team’s approach of defending the paint could’ve gone better.
“One of the things we did effectively in the first half was we were able to jam up the middle and limit their opportunities in the paint,” she said. “We didn’t do as good of a job doing that in the third quarter. They were able to penetrate into the paint and when we had to slide to help. That gave them opportunities for kick outs.”
The brown and gold are now looking forward to next season. Coach Lisella said the team will talk some things out to get a better idea of what their goals are and how they want to go about accomplishing them. Not making the tournament “stung,” but now there is nowhere to go but up.
As for the seniors who are departing – guards Mandy Jiang, Valerie Garofalo and Anyssa Sanchez – Coach Lisella says that they’ve demonstrated what hard work and dedication can accomplish. She said she hopes they remember that once they graduate.
All three players have been with the program for four years. They’ve seen rough times, like the 6-19 campaign in their first year, and great times like last year’s tournament run. One thing’s for sure, they’ve cherished spending time with their teammates on and off the court. Whether it’s here in New Jersey or down in Florida and Puerto Rico for tournaments and just a little bit of rest and relaxation.
Garofalo said since freshman year, her confidence as a player grew. She advised incoming student athletes to go out there and just play. The team leader in assists for two straight seasons believes that if you carry yourself in a positive way, the confidence will come.
Sanchez called her time with the team “fun, goofy, crazy and amazing.” One thing she learned while playing is to simply be fearless. The 1,000-point scorer credits coach Lisella for helping her drop that fear, which allowed her to become the person and player that she is today.
Jiang, who Lisella described as the “glue” of the team, described Lisella as tenacious, saying she’s good at getting what she wants out of players. The key reserve says that the family-oriented aspect of the team is one thing she will miss the most.
The team barely missed a beat after replacing two 1,000 point scorers from a year ago. Now they are tasked with replacing three four-year players.
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