Rowan Women’s Basketball drops its season opener against No. 6 Scranton

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Nicole Mallard drives to the hoop. The senior scored a game-high 25 points in the Profs' season opener. - Photo via Rowan Athletics

Rowan Women’s Basketball fell to Scranton in its first game of the season on Wednesday, Nov. 8 by a final score of 66-52. Despite the loss, the Profs’ matchup against the No. 6 ranked team in the country was a lot closer than the final score indicated.

The game started off well in the first quarter, with Nicole Mallard scoring nine of the Profs’ first 15 points, carrying them to an early 15-8 lead. Mallard would go on to finish with 25 points, the game-high for all scorers.

“I just saw a lot of open lanes tonight,” Mallard said. “With Grace [Marshall] leaving last year, I knew I had to be more aggressive than I have ever been, especially with a team like this. I wanted to win this game for Coach Poles, our new coach, and it was our home opener. Being aggressive was important.”

The Profs’ aforementioned new head coach Kate Pearson loved the aggressiveness she saw from the team’s leading scorer last season.

“She’s a playmaker,” Pearson said. “I think for other teams, it’s hard for them to guard her. She shot the three well and made some acrobatic layups. Going further, people are gonna try to shut her down which will open up the floor for others.”

The biggest issue for the Profs during the game was when Scranton employed the full-court press in the second quarter. The Royals were able to make the Profs turn the ball over ten times throughout the frame, holding them to eight shots and eight points. Scranton scored 22 points and outscored Rowan by 15 in the second frame, causing them to take a 30-23 lead into halftime. Those 15 points would end up being the difference, with the Profs losing by 14.

Pearson, who made her coaching debut for the Profs, thought that Scranton’s press coverage worked well against her squad.

“We just talked to the guards to try to keep the ball in the middle of the court,” Pearson said. “Credit to them that they were able to push us. I think some of it was inexperience, so we are just going to continue to work on that.”

After halftime, the Profs gave up 16 points in the third quarter but kept pace with the Royals by scoring 13 of their own. The team made some adjustments coming out of the half, limiting turnovers and only allowing four points off turnovers.

The defending New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) champions stayed in the game until there were five minutes left in the fourth quarter. After Kristina Johnson hit a three-pointer that brought the Profs’ deficit down to nine, the game got away from them. Mallard thought that even though they never made a huge comeback, they put up a good fight against one of the best teams in the country.

“We did lose, but I feel like we competed the entire time, which is really good,” Mallard said. “We played a really good team. We did well coming back in increments.”

The Profs’ next game at Esbjornson Gymnasium in Glassboro, New Jersey will be against Eastern University on Saturday, Nov. 18, where the Profs will be seeking their first home win of the season.

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