The Rowan University women’s basketball team defeated Stockton University 87-54 in the quarterfinals of the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Championship Tournament. In the first playoff game inside Esby Gymnasium since February 2020, the Profs did not disappoint.
The Profs excelled on both ends of the floor, forcing 28 turnovers by the Ospreys, while junior guard Nicole Mallard dropped a career-high 27 points in the win.
The Profs held the lead for over 90% of the game, while a strong offensive performance in the first quarter allowed Rowan to hold a 24-21 point lead. They shot 53.3% from the field and put up high shooting numbers throughout the entirety of the game.
On the defensive end, the Profs instilled a full court press, which has been a staple in their game plan all season long. They were able to force Stockton to turn the ball over, which led to easy buckets on the offensive end by guards Mallard, senior Grace Marshall, and sophomore Sam Rinaldi.
Head Coach Demetrius Poles reflects on the defensive prowess of his backourt.
“They had a lot of turnovers, Nicole Mallard, Grace Marshall and Sam did a great job of defending the half court and it put a lot of pressure on them.”
The Profs also were able to run their sets efficiently, which led to unselfish play and open looks. They started the second quarter on a seven point bout led by Mallard and senior forward Jazlyn Duverglas, which allowed the Profs to extend their lead to ten. Rowan’s productive offense proved to be too much for the Ospreys to handle, as they was able to set the tone for the rest of the contest.
“When we have so many plays that we just throw at other teams, it’s hard to defend it, so I think it’s very efficient when you throw a bunch of different plays at teams,” Mallard said. “With a bunch of different screens and rolls and everything, every play is different, so I feel like it’s efficient.”
In addition to efficiency on the offensive end, the Profs’ defense halted the Ospreys from making a comeback. Despite a 27 point performance from Stockton’s Madison LaRosa, Rowan was able to adjust on the defensive end, switching to a zone, where they shut down their long range game.
“We like to defend the whole court,” Coach Poles said. “With the adjustments that we made we made it very hard for them to just dribble up the court and hit 3 point shooters.”
The Profs held Stockton to only 11 points in the second quarter, which allowed them to go up 64-46 at the half.
The Profs defense continued to suffocate the Ospreys, led by Mallard and Marshall who combined for eight steals. Mallard, who was also named last week’s NJAC Player of the Week says that her presence on the defensive end helped lead her to her offensive outburst.
“I think me hitting my first two threes gave me a lot of confidence to keep shooting, just offensively it kept me going,” Mallard said. “And also I was doing good defensively, my hands were everywhere, I was getting traps like Coach [Poles] wanted us to do and just rotating well. Our defense just fuels our offense and it fuels my offense to give me more confidence.”
Other contributors for the Profs included junior guard/forward Dakota Adams who recorded her 11th double-double of the season with ten points and 11 boards, Rinaldi was efficient in facilitating the offense with eight points and four assists. Marshall filled up the stat sheet with 13 points, four rebounds, six assists, one block and four steals.
The Profs began to run away with the game, out scoring Stockton 40-22 in the second half, their pressure on the defensive end led to 25 points off turnovers in which the Profs were able to capitalize on.
“We were still getting deflections, steals and we were converting it to our offense, so that’s how we play best, that’s how we play quick, so I feel like it [the defense] was very efficient,” Mallard said.
The Profs efficiency on both ends of the floor led to 44 points in the paint and 13 steals, while Rowan was able to net a season best 44% from beyond the arc.
In an all-around productive performance, the Profs have overcome their first opponents of the tournament and will now take on New Jersey City University on Thursday at home in the NJAC Semifinals.
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