Rowan Women’s Basketball defeats Kean University in high energy matchup

Danielle McCurdy drives to the basket. McCurdy scored a career high 13 points against Kean. Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023. - Multimedia Editor / Lee Kotzen

Rowan women’s basketball defeated New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) opponent Kean University 79-66 on Saturday, Jan. 7. The Profs snapped a two-game losing streak, improving to 8-6 on the season and 4-3 in the NJAC. 

“That was amazing, just seeing us come together,” Profs forward Danielle McCurdy said, “The words of the day are together and energy. We’ve had runs where we go bad, and we just put our heads down. Today we fixed that. It was just awesome to see everyone take a step in the right direction.”

McCurdy put up a career-high 13 points and five blocks, leading the team with Nicole Mallard in rebounds and steals with six and three respectively.

Mallard led the team with 20 points, her third 20-plus point game of the season. She also made 12 out of her 15 free throws. Mallard highlighted the mental side of the game when it comes to free throws.

“I had to focus, definitely at the free throw line it’s all mental, it’s in your head,” Mallard said. “It’s an open shot, you gotta make it, so it’s definitely a mental thing.” 

Another key contributor during the game was guard Savanna Holt, whose two consecutive three-pointers midway through the first quarter gave Rowan the lead that they would hold for the rest of the game. That was just one example of how her high energy gave the Profs an extra boost.

“I just felt like I could contribute and bring a lot of energy to the team, just having a lot of confidence with everything going on right now,” Holt said. “We just needed a little pick me up and I feel like I helped contribute to that pick me up.” 

Holt added a free throw and another three-pointer in the third quarter, giving her a total of 10 points.

At the beginning of the third quarter, Kean narrowed the lead from 11 points to three points, but at the 4:50 mark Rowan began a nine-point run. This key stretch included both McCurdy and Mallard going two-for-two in free throws, a driving layup by Grace Marshall and a three-pointer by Kate Herlihy.

“It was very important we got a huge lead, we wanted to just keep on going with it,” Head Coach Demetrius Poles said. “It was kind of like a boxing match, going back and forth, but that run kind of put them away and then we just had to play smart basketball after that… and keep the pressure on them.”

In the fourth quarter, Kean’s six straight points decreased Rowan’s lead to 62-55. But Rowan answered with McCurdy’s jumper, Herlihy’s free throw and Marshall’s five straight points to give them a 70-58 lead. Marshall had 10 points and two assists in the victory. 

At the end of the game, Coach Poles praised the team’s overall strong performance.

“The girls that came off the bench — Jes Mastriano, Kate Herlihy and Reagan Russo — they all busted their butts today. They need a lot of credit,” Coach Poles said. “They work hard, and it showed today. They made a great contribution to the team.” 

Coach Poles also echoed the theme of unity and energy when reflecting on the win, something he was happy to see from his team.

“It was great. I’m more happy with the team’s energy — the team came out, they were together, they were positive, they were ready to fight and they did a good job,” Coach Poles said. “We got off to a good start and played good defense. The ball started dropping right away and we executed. I’m very happy with the team.”

Mallard knows what this victory means in the grand scheme of the team’s success and how it’s something they need to build from.

“This is a first step to a long journey,” Mallard said. “we are still in the beginning of the NJAC season so I’m excited for the rest of the season.”

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