Last Wednesday night, Jan. 19, the Rowan men’s basketball team took on their New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) rivals, The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), for the second time this season. After winning the first affair 85-77 back on Nov. 23, Rowan was able to complete the regular-season sweep with an even bigger win, defeating the Lions 101-79.
It felt like a homecoming game for the Profs, as they were welcomed by a home-crowd full of students and fans back on campus for the spring semester. Additionally, the contest was Head Coach Joe Crispin’s first game back with the team after being away for nearly three weeks.
“It feels great to be back,” Coach Crispin said. “I missed practice and I missed our games, and it was really not fun to be watching us play on a screen. It feels good to have nearly our whole team back, and we are built to be a really deep team.”
Coach Crispin was rewarded with a big victory in his return, but the win was a back-and-forth battle for the Profs up to the final stretch of the game.
In the first half of the action, there were six total lead exchanges between the two squads. Rowan was able to escape into halftime with just a 45-44 lead, but TCNJ was able to keep the game tight by outshooting Rowan from the three. The Lions shot 50% from beyond the arc in the first half compared to the Profs’ 33%.
While TCNJ was only down by one point coming out of the halftime break, they were never able to regain the lead. Rowan remained in the driver’s seat throughout the second half, largely thanks to their ability to score points off of turnovers. Thirty of the Prof’s points came from turnovers, while TCNJ was only able to get 15 points worth of production in that category.
Rowan had 21 total, with sophomore guard Damian Smith’s six steals off of the bench helping to propel Rowan’s second-half explosion.
“Damian is so consistent,” Coach Crispin said. “He’s tough, and he defends well. He came up with big plays and got us extra possessions. You can never have enough of those guys.”
While Smith was one of the stars of the night on defense, six of his offensive teammates finished in double figures points scored, including all five starters.
Sophomores Andrew Seager and Marcellus Ross both led the way, dropping 20 points each and helping Rowan grow their lead to as much as 25 points in the late parts of the second half. After the game, Ross credited his teammates for the offensive runs that Rowan was able to put up all game.
“We have a team built with a bunch of scorers,” Ross said. “Everybody on this team is good and everybody can get a bucket whenever we need one. That makes it easier for all of us, and I think it really helps me succeed in this lineup.”
The Profs built on their recent success this past Saturday, Jan. 22, when they traveled to Kean University for their second meeting of the season and defeated them 96-78.
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