Rowan women’s basketball relies on defense in victory over Rutgers-Newark

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Reagan Russo controls the ball in Rowan's matchup against Rutgers-Camden, Feb. 1, 2023. - Multimedia Editor / Lee Kotzen

The Rowan women’s basketball team celebrated National Girls and Women in Sports Day on Saturday, Feb. 11, with an 83-41 win over Rutgers University-Newark.

In the first quarter, Rowan went on a 13-0 scoring run to start up the offense, with points during this run coming from all five starters. The Profs outscored Rutgers-Newark 29-13 by the end of the quarter and carried that momentum through the rest of the game. 

It wasn’t just the offense that was on a roll, as Rowan’s defense stayed on top of their game by being aggressive. They collected 30 defensive rebounds and forced 36 turnovers. Head Coach Demetrius Poles believes the team builds offensive chances from their defense.

“Our strength is our defense,” Coach Poles said. “And we want to score off our defense and not just put a burden on the offensive side.” 

The Profs did just that, scoring 38 points off turnovers throughout the matchup. Rowan forward Danielle McCurdy was one of the players who provided both offense and defense, with five points and rebounds.

“For me, it always starts with defense. If I can focus on that end of the floor, it usually turns into offense,” McCurdy said. “That has always been my focus as a player, even when I was young.” 

Heading into halftime, Rowan carried a 47-20 lead and limited Rutgers-Newark to seven points in the second quarter. But Coach Poles didn’t let a large lead affect the team’s mentality when starting the second half of the game.

“It’s 0-0. We want to finish the game with large leads,” Coach Poles said. “If we do well in the first half, we want to continue what we did well.” 

Sophomore Reagan Russo spoke about the mindset she and her teammates were in while maintaining a large lead at halftime.

“Obviously, we knew we had the big lead and it was great,” Russo said. “I was focusing on the little things that we know we need to work on in practice.”

Starting the third quarter, Rutgers-Newark was able to score on their first couple possessions. It looked like they were going to change the momentum to get back in the game, but Rowan’s offense proved them wrong. 

Rowan went on a 20-2 scoring run for the rest of the quarter and limited Rutgers-Newark to six points total in the third quarter. McCurdy continued contributing to the defense by tipping a loose ball away from a Rutgers-Newark player and scoring on a break at the other end of the court. 

McCurdy recalled the team’s last game, which was a loss to New Jersey City University last Wednesday, Feb. 8, and how it provided more focus on this matchup against Rutgers-Newark.

“We were trying to get as much ball movement as possible because we were definitely stagnant last week,” McCurdy continued “So for us to move the ball and try to get a high number of assists was definitely a priority.” 

Rutgers-Newark’s offensive did have 15 points in the final quarter, but it was not enough to stop the Profs, who improved their record to 16-8 for the season. 

The Profs will be home again in their next matchup against Montclair State University for Senior Night Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 5:30 p.m.

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