The Rowan women’s basketball team gets to put on a show in front of a home crowd after starting out the season 2-3 with five straight games on the road.
It may not be the best record to start the season with, but it’s certainly manageable with plenty of games left on the schedule, especially when you’ve started New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) play with a win against Rutgers-Camden last Wednesday.
It’s safe to say that freshman center Ayanna Johnson, quite frankly, went off.
“Their weaknesses played to my strengths and allowed me the opportunity to do well in that game,” Johnson said.
She scored a game and career-high 31 points and snagged 24 rebounds in Rowan’s 91-81 win. Johnson went 10-15 from the floor but was only 5-10 from the free throw line.
Head coach Gabby Lisella spoke on the importance of getting the first conference victory.
“That’s always the main focus of your season [conference play],” Lisella said. “It was key to set the tone for where we want to be in the conference.”
Rowan hasn’t finished under .500 in the NJAC since 2013, where they went 5-13 and just 6-19 overall.
Unfortunately, sometimes good things come to an end and the Profs’ next game against Albright College on Saturday did just that.
The 66-61 loss taught Rowan a valuable lesson for the rest of the season, that no matter how well you play, none of that really matters if you can’t stay out of foul trouble.
“We fouled too much,” said senior guard Olivia Rulon. “It’s something we know we have to work on.”
Albright attempted an astonishing 48 free throws, connecting on just 25. That’s a mere 52.1 percent from the line. The Profs went 14-20.
The Brown and Gold were also heavily out-rebounded 55-38, as three Lions grabbed 10 or more rebounds. Junior guard Dominique Peters led Rowan with seven.
Fast-forward four days to Wednesday night, where Rowan will look to take their second NJAC game in as many contests.
“You always want to own your own house,” Lisella said. “You don’t want teams to ever want to come in here.”
Standing across from the Profs will be a TCNJ team that you could say is under-performing when looking at their schedule.
Selected as the conference favorite by nine of 10 coaches in the NJAC women’s basketball preseason coaches’ poll, TCNJ currently sits at 1-3 record after suffering two losses during a rough trip in California. But, the Lions are still a capable threat in the conference and are 1-0 in the NJAC as well after taming the Stockton University quite easily, 82-54 last week.
“We have to realize that communication is going to be key in knowing where their shooters are, and not letting them get shots off,” Rulon said.
This match-up is a very intriguing one, as both teams are extremely different.
TCNJ is a very experienced team. Their seventh-most minutes played are by freshman Rachel Gazzola, while Rowan is a complete different image with five freshman receiving significant minutes. Four freshmen have even gotten starts this season.
The Lions are a much bigger team as well with three of their starters going above 5’10″ and the shortest starter measuring in at 5’7″. The Profs have three players total 5’10”-5’11”.
Now, the Profs aim to defend their home court for the first time successfully with another NJAC matchup as The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) come into town on Wednesday night. Tipoff is at 6 p.m.
The Profs lost a heartbreaker in overtime, 79-70. Olivia Rulon led Rowan in scoring with 19, while two others scored in double figures. TCNJ had four in double figures, as Samantha Famulare led all in scoring with 23.
The team heads to New Jersey City University (NJCU) for another NJAC tilt on Saturday. Tipoff is at 1:00 p.m.
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