Rowan men’s basketball falls to Montclair in first round of NJAC Tournament

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After hard work, dedication and a lot of preparation, unfortunately, the Rowan men’s basketball team’s season has come to an end.

The brown and gold made the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) tournament for the second consecutive year, this time around as a number five seed. Despite making it, they got bounced in the first round by Montclair State, the four seed. The game resulted in Rowan’s third overtime game of the year, where they were outscored 13-9 and eventually lost 77-73.

In the loss, the team looked nothing like they did during the four-game winning streak that jolted them into the playoffs. Back then, the team was confident, rejuvenated and was showing huge strides in the shot selection department.

Fast forward to a couple weeks later. They took poor shots, were out-hustled and their offense couldn’t tread water. Their second half defensive effort is what kept them in the game.

Montclair had 61 boards to Rowan’s 39, while Rowan shot just 20 percent from beyond the arc (3-15) in the second half. Perhaps the only positive note was the continued success from the free throw line, as the team went 14-17 (82.4 percent) from there over the final 20 minutes.

As the season progressed, junior forward Ramon Wright has gotten better and better with his efficiency from the line after a very poor start to the season. Perhaps he took head coach Joe Crispin’s advice to “Just shoot, don’t think.” At the line, Wright shot 7-10, he also led the team in scoring with 21 points and blocked five shots.

The DePersia twins had a major impact on the court once again, as Nick DePersia eclipsed the 1,000 point mark. In the team’s season finale at Ramapo, he netted 16 points. In 78 career games, he now has 1,018 career points, averaging 13.1 points per-game (PPG). This season, he ranked tied for second in the conference in three-point shots made-per-game (2.4). Rob DePersia ranked top-10 in the NJAC in assists per-game and steals per-game. The brothers combined for 520 of the team’s 2,131 total points this season.

Senior forward TJ Booth ended his collegiate career finale with 19 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Booth had 15 or more points in 16 games. His presence will surely be missed, as he was a leader, an inside threat and an efficient three-point shooter.

“We had a good season, a lot of our guys stepped up at certain times when we needed them to,” Crispin said. “TJ was a big part of it. We’ll have a good amount of seniors next year, but we’ll try our best to replicate some of our success from this year. I’m proud of our guys and what they accomplished.”

Come next November, Crispin will return for his fourth season as head coach and his seventh as a member of the coaching staff.

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