The Rowan women’s basketball team has found success as a squad, winning seven in a row with a 15-7 overall record as the regular season begins to wind down. However, two individuals have recently accomplished incredible milestones.
Nicole Mallard and Grace Marshall, two of the three captains of the Profs, both earned 1,000 career points during Rowan’s games last week. In doing so, they became the third pair of players in Rowan’s history to do so in the same season.
First was Mallard, who became the 18th woman all time to get 1k as a Prof. She hit a three-pointer with under two minutes to play in the first half, as Rowan controlled the entirety of the game against Rutgers-Camden on Wednesday, Feb. 1. Rowan won 83-43, and Mallard dropped 11 points in the game.
Mallard was able to appreciate the moment with the support of her team, the crowd and her family.
“When I finally made it, it was cool that all my teammates came out,” Mallard said. “The crowd, a couple of my roommates made posters, my family was there, so it was really cool to see.”
Head Coach Demetrius Poles reflected on Mallard’s time and growth with the Profs.
“I think she’s been one of the best players in the NJAC [New Jersey Athletic Conference] since the first day,” Coach Poles said. “She’s been able to score, she’s been able to defend, she’s like the Kawhi Leonard of the NJAC ever since she’s gotten here. She’s been able to compete at a high level and shut down some of the best players over the last three years. She’s just been great, she’s very humble, she’s worked hard and improved every year, as well.”
Mallard finished her high school career at Warren Hills Regional with 1,150 points, collecting 387 in her senior year in 2018-19. She also earned All-Skyland Conference First Team and Group III second-team honors.
During her freshman campaign, Mallard was named to the All-NJAC First Team, led the team in scoring with 13.6 points per game, and earned NJAC Rookie of the Week three times. Last season, she was again named to the All-NJAC First Team, increased her scoring to 13.9 points per game, and was named NJAC Player of the Week three times.
Coach Poles noted many positives in Mallard’s game and her development throughout the years.
“In all facets, her shooting, her passing, her understanding of the game is great, and it’s growing every year,” Poles said.
Just three days after Mallard scored 1,000, the Profs were slated to play Kean University on Saturday, Feb. 4, in a battle between the No. 1 and No, 2 teams in the conference.
Marshall spoke about her mindset heading into the game, one where she was just 16 points shy of reaching 1,000 career points.
“I was definitely nervous because Kean is a great team and it was a big game for us,” Marshall said. “I knew that I was 16 points away, that was kind of on my mind, but mainly on my mind was ‘we have to go in, we have to play our best, play together and win.’ At first I wasn’t really scoring, definitely thinking more defense, but we started changing the offense and there was more opportunity to score.”
With just under eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Marshall drove to a basket and hit a layup, solidifying her name in the history books. She became the 19th player in the program to earn 1,000 points. Rowan won the contest 78-76 and Marshall collected 16 points.
“It was funny because we kept playing,” Marshall said. “I heard the bench yelling and my family in the stands, too, so it was exciting, but I was focused because I was still locked in and kept playing. I felt so humbled and grateful for this opportunity, and everyone who’s supported me to get here.”
Coach Poles noted Marshall’s hard work and her dedication to the program, which was a key factor in her accomplishment.
“Grace [Marshall] is a hard worker, probably the hardest worker we have,” Coach Poles said. “You don’t have to tell Grace [Marshall] to get in the gym, she’s a gym rat and deserves all of the accolades that she gets, because she worked hard at it.”
Marshall attended Haddon Township High School, finishing her career with 1,100 points and earning All-Conference honors. During her time at Rowan, Marshall was named to the All-NJAC Second Team in 2019-20, and was an All-NJAC Honorable Mention last season, averaging a career-high 12.7 points per game. In her last 10 games, Marshall had nine double-digit performances.
Mallard and Marshall are the Profs’ leading scorers. Mallard is averaging 11.6 points per game, and Marshall is putting up 9.5 a contest.
“They have great chemistry with each other,” Coach Poles said. “They can read each other, and that translates to offense and defense, and it makes them two a very tough tandem to stop.”
Marshall and Mallard’s chemistry doesn’t stop on the court, either.
“We work really well together, we’re like best friends off the court too,” Mallard said. “I’m so happy for her, and for me, as well, that we could do it in the same week. That was really cool to see.”
The accomplished duo will look to lead the Profs down the stretch, with three regular-season games remaining before the NJAC Championships and the possibility of the NCAA tournament.
“It’s been great, Nicole’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever played with,” Marshall said. “I’m proud to see all that she’s accomplished. We’re best friends off the court, too. It’s just great to have someone like that.”
For comments/questions about this story tweet @TheWhitSports.