Clutch. That’s one way to describe the performance of sophomore Austin Kearney’s performance for the Rowan men’s basketball team Wednesday night. Kearney scored a career-high 35 points and senior captain TJ Booth added in 20, along with the game-tying three in overtime, as the Profs went on to defeat Rutgers-Camden, 104-101. Booth scored Rowan’s last seven points of the contest.
Prior to tonight’s win, the Profs had lost five straight, four of which were by 10 points or less. Head coach Joe Crispin has stuck almost entirely to his same starting lineup, but the many opportunities the lineup had to carry the team have been to no avail.
“For our lineups, we’ve talked about it before every game, we consider different options,” Crispin said. “It depends on what we want the game to be like… You always want to be learned, to be challenged. I have a good group of assistant coaches, but I try to leave room to be challenged on certain decisions.”
Despite his woes at the free-throw line, shooting just 52.2 percent, junior forward Ramon Wright has been a pleasant surprise for the Profs. He leads the team in rebounds, field-goal percentage, blocks and steals. Wright is top-10 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) in these categories as well.
Born in East Orange, Wright is a transfer student, switching from Division II West Chester University to Rowan. According to him, the transfer back home was due to being in an unfit environment at WCU.
“Being there, it wasn’t for me, I wasn’t fit for that, nor was I having any fun,” Wright said. “The school itself was fun, but waking up at 6 a.m. for practice just wasn’t for me.”
And his take on the team’s play as of recent?
“Our defense is our biggest flaw right now,” Wright said. “Sometimes you can only be two possessions from winning the game; two possessions can take you from winning by five or losing by five. We’re in a five game losing streak, but if we had made a couple more free-throws or shots, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
When Wright has at least four blocks in a game, Rowan is 4-2. To say he’s been productive in important offensive and defensive categories is an understatement. Wright compared the differences from DII to DIII play.
“In Division II, the play is definitely a lot faster,” Wright said. “The biggest difference is the height. Here, it may take you two dribbles to get to the basket, but there, the athleticism is so strong, there are players 6’8″ and 6’9” that can speed by you.”
This Saturday, Rowan will host 14-5 Montclair State University.
On December 9th, Rowan lost 95-78 in Montclair, as shot just 23.7 percent [9-38] at halftime, including 4-19 from deep. Rowan starters shot just 31.4 percent [17/54] for the contest.
Saturday’s game will be a battle of the best offense versus the second-best defense in the NJAC as of Tuesday night. Rowan ranks at the top in points-per-game (PPG), with an average of 82.5. Montclair’s defense ranks second in points allowed per-game, at 70.8.
Over their past five games, Montclair sophomore forward Eddie Emedoh has averaged 13.6 points-per-game, including a season-high 25 points versus TCNJ.
Freshman guard Myles Mitchell-White leads their team in scoring this year, with 12.7 PPG.
Through their past five home games, Rowan’s defense has allowed 90.4 PPG. They haven’t won a home game since Nov. 29.
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