Rowan men’s basketball stays alive in NJAC with win versus TCNJ

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It’s been a mix of good and bad for the Rowan men’s basketball team as of lately. The good? They broke a five-game losing streak last Wednesday in thrilling fashion against Rutgers-Camden. The bad? They dropped their next game against Montclair State University on Saturday at home. The Profs now sit at 3-5 in Glassboro, 5-8 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) and 9-11 overall. Rowan also had an exhibition game this past Sunday against Princeton University.

Rowan held a 43-37 lead going into the half as they shot 16-38 from the field and hit six of 17 from downtown, but this was a tale of two halves.

The Profs were outscored 43-25 in the second half and were held to just over 25 percent from the field and a bit over 22 perfect from three-point land. Guard Ramon Wright was held to four points, tying a Nov. 29 meeting against Rutgers-Camden for his lowest scoring game of the season. Rowan starters went 18-57 from the field and 7-27 from deep.

Clearly, the team hasn’t lived up to their preseason hopes and expectations, but there is still a fighting chance to reach the NJAC Tournament. The Profs sit in seventh place and need to crack the top-six to enter.

“Obviously the record we are at right now [isn’t what he expected],” said junior guard and captain Rob DePersia. “I worked hard this summer and that wasn’t the record I aimed for, but there’s still a lot of time left. We did have a tough stretch of games before that Rutgers [Camden] game. We played a lot of high-level opponents, we were baskets away from beating them. It was frustrating going into that game. We are still fighting for a playoff spot.”

“It was the mentality of ‘we’ve got to get it done.’ If we play our game, it will work out. After the comeback win in overtime, we showed that we have a lot of fight and resiliency, we really needed that win,” DePersia elaborated. “Then going to Montclair, we played a great half, then the second half we didn’t do the same things that we did defensively. We lost to a great team, but we have all these games thinking we’re the better team, but we need to put together a full 40-minute game,” he said.

Out of Rowan’s five remaining games, three are road games, including the season finale at Ramapo. All of their remaining games are against conference opponents and three of those teams have winning records [TCNJ, New Jersey City and Ramapo]. Although they haven’t won a road game against TCNJ since February 2015, the Profs are better on the road then home, posting a 5-4 record in such games. 

They began their finale against TCNJ on Wednesday. Rowan (83.2) and TCNJ (80.8) rank first and second in points-per-game (PPG).

TCNJ forward Eric Murdock, Jr. ranks second in the NJAC in PPG (17.4) and first in assists-per-game (APG) with 5.4. Rowan forward TJ Booth ranks 11th in PPG (14.1) and third in defensive rebounds per-game (6.5).

Despite being a senior, coach Joe Crispin discussed Booth’s influence and the season he’s having thus far.

“TJ’s been great,” Crispin said. “He’s had a great season and improved this past summer. He should feel great about the way he’s been. I do know that he wants to leave things even better come the rest of the season. I think next year he’ll be around a little bit, helping the team.”

Crispin’s take on the remainder of the year is, despite their poor record, for the team to play loose and upbeat.

“Over the final five games of the season, I would like us to be better game-by-game,” Crispin said. “I still don’t think we’ve played our best basketball, defensively or offensively yet. Now whether or not we can break through a little bit and find it remains to be seen.”

This year would be the first time since 2014 that they missed the Championship Tournament.

The Profs defeated TCNJ on Wednesday night, 93-84.

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