After a weekend in Christopher Newport for the Holiday Invitational, Rowan Men’s Basketball managed to split the two games they played, winning the first against Mary Washington and losing the second against Christopher Newport, coming back to Glassboro with a 4-2 record on the season.
On Wednesday, Nov. 29, the Profs welcomed the 5-1 TCNJ Lions to Esby Gymnasium in hopes of a bounce-back win in their second New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) game of the season.
This matchup between Rowan and TCNJ had seen the Profs winning the last five meetings against TCNJ, including last season’s NJAC semifinal game. In this matchup, however, TCNJ would break that streak as the Profs’ second-half comeback came up short and the Lions held on for an 82-72 win.
The Profs were down 42-26 at halftime but were able to storm back in the second half to at one point to turn the deficit into a three-point game. However, the Prof’s late-game offensive explosion was not enough to win the game.
“It’s always tough when you dig a hole that big in the first half to then try and come back to win the game,” Head Coach Eric Brennan said. “I give credit to the guys for staying with it and almost getting the win out there but it’s difficult when we gave up too many easy buckets in the first half.”
The Profs’ poor shooting in the first half proved to be their downfall, as they ended the half shooting 29 percent from the field and 26 percent from three.
On the flip side, TCNJ was super efficient in the first half, scoring 26 points in the paint and shooting 50 percent from the field in the first half. It seemed like the Profs were gonna go down without much fight in this matchup but Brennan made it a priority to keep his guys’ heads in the game.
“In the locker room, I was trying to keep them focused and positive because you can usually overcome early leads,” Brennan said. “My thing with them was that we need to guard somebody and we’ll be able to chip into the lead and we’ll see where it lands us from there.”
Rowan’s second-half defense made it harder for the Lions to score with the same efficiency. Brennan implemented a full-court trap that forced TCNJ to commit 13 turnovers in the second half alone.
Rowan’s ability to force these turnovers was the driving force behind their late comeback, along with junior Khalif Meares, who led the Profs in scoring with 25 points added seven rebounds, and had a game-high six steals.
“When it comes to Meares, defensively or offensively he’s always locked in on both ends of the floor and he brings energy to the team with his steals and transition baskets… It was something that we needed tonight to have a chance,” Brennan said.
Despite the heroics by Meares and McCarron, TCNJ was able to hold on to win the game 82-72, after Rowan’s offense stalled in the final minutes of the game.
Now after back-to-back losses, the Profs record drops to 4-3. They will look to learn and come back more prepared for their match on Saturday, Dec. 2, against the Pioneers of William Paterson.
“We’ve got to learn from today, we can’t get down early like we did against TCNJ and expect to win,” Brennan said. “Against William Paterson, we gotta show up to play and play the way we know how, and that’s playing together and playing as a unit.”