Rowan Women’s Basketball picks up Senior Night victory

Ayanna Johnson looks to put up a basket. Johnson led the team in steals and blocks against Montclair State. Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023. - Multimedia Editor / Lee Kotzen

The Rowan women’s basketball team closed out the regular season with a win against New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) opponent Montclair State University on Senior Night, Wednesday, Feb. 15. It took a second half surge and key plays from the veterans to pull out the 67-55 victory. 

Before the game the team honored four seniors, Danielle McCurdy, Dakota Adams, Ayanna Johnson and Grace Marshall. All have been members of the team for various amounts of time, but have contributed to the program in a multitude of ways. 

The first half was neck and neck as Rowan outscored the Red Hawks 12-10 in the first and then took a 30-23 lead into the half. 

During this stretch Johnson totaled all six of her rebounds, three assists and two blocks. She reflected on her performance in the paint. 

“I always keep an eye on the ball, it’s just about hustle and heart. I feel like rebounding is a lot about wanting it more and fighting for the ball,” Johnson said. “I’ve never been the most refined, skilled player but I’ve always had hustle and heart.”

The Profs began to get stops on the defensive end, and went on a multitude of runs in the third quarter to propel their lead from the first half.

“We were only up by seven and it was a good game the whole half,” Marshall said. “We have to come out strong because we only have one half left to take care of this.” 

Nearing the end of the third quarter, the Profs went on a 25-6 run that completely shifted the scoring margin, resulting in them closing out the fourth. Head Coach Demetrius Poles cited the defense as the turning point in the game. 

“We got some deflections, we got some easy baskets, Nicole [Mallard] played awesome defense in the middle of the zone press,” Coach Poles said. “It made it easier and broke the game open, the defense from the second quarter to the end of the game was excellent.” 

With the excellence in defense also came the efficiency in offense. Rowan shot 38.9% from the field in the second half, while hitting five of their seven total threes. 

Marshall, who had a team-high 13 points, reflected on what the night as a whole meant to her. 

“It was just really special,” Marshall said. “Honoring the seniors, just kind of thinking back to the past five years and how much fun I’ve had, all the experiences I’ve had with the amazing people, it was very special.” 

Coach Poles was happy with all of the seniors’ performances and what they have done for the program. 

“They did a good job today, good leadership and the example was their play. Dakota [Adams] did a good job to help the score a little bit, and rebounding. Dani [Danielle McCurdy] is one of the most efficient players I’ve coached, she’s very smart,” Coach Poles said. “Ayanna [Johnson], once again one of the best defenders in the country, she did a good job today rebounding and defending. Grace [Marshall] did a remarkable job of leading the team with the ball and making decisions.” 

Adams finished with 10 points and nine rebounds, while McCurdy had nine rebounds and two blocks. Johnson added six rebounds, three steals and three blocks while Marshall had 13 points and three steals in the 67-55 victory. 

Johnson, who did not play last season, reflected on her time with the brown and gold. 

“As you guys know, I didn’t play last year, and I was really upset that I didn’t have a proper Senior Night to close out my career on the right foot,” Johnson said. “So it means a lot to be able to have the opportunity to come back and really celebrate my career with my teammates and my time at Rowan for what it was, and everything that it’s given to me.” 

With the win Rowan secured the third seed in the NJAC tournament and will host a first-round game on Saturday against the sixth seed Ramapo College at 1 p.m. 

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