Rowan men’s basketball shuts down Ramapo’s offense to keep pace in the NJAC race

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Chris McCarron drives inside for a layup. McCarron recorded 15 points and helped anchor a Profs' defense that only let up 76 points. - Photo via Rowan Athletics

On Saturday, Jan. 27, the Profs welcomed in the 13-6 Ramapo Roadrunners, a team that beat Rowan by a score of 110-106 in overtime during their previous matchup on Dec. 9. It was a game that the Profs let slip away as Ramapo was bolstered by a 15-2 run with four minutes left to put themselves back in the game. Later on, Ramapo guard Peter Gorman was able to hit a three-pointer with two seconds left to force overtime, where the Roadrunners would eventually pull away. 

This time around, however, the Profs were able to handle business and defeat the Roadrunners 87-76 to secure their 15th win of the season and maintain their share of first place in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) with Montclair State University.

“We wanted to take away their best player,” Head Coach Eric Brennan said. “Peter Gorman is a hell of a player that can score the ball at all three levels but I believe the guys did an excellent job on Gorman and while being able to control the game to our type of pace.”

Senior Ja’Zere Noel continued his hot streak since the turn of the new year, scoring 25 points while dishing out five assists, grabbing five rebounds, and blocking two shots in the contest. 

The Profs also saw big contributions from other players. Sophomore guard Chris McCarron scored a career-high 15 points on five three-pointers. McCarron was also assigned the task of guarding Gorman, which he excelled in, holding Gorman to just four points in the 36 minutes he played.

“Most of the game his assignment was Gorman and I think he did a heck of a job guarding him and then offensively he was able to knock down a ton of big three-pointers for us. He’s legitimately here every day working on his game and that’s how he earned my trust,” Brennan said.

The other contribution came from the newest addition to the Profs lineup, junior forward Danny Fleming, who finished with 19 points, two blocks, two steals, and a team-high six rebounds in his 23 minutes played. 

After he was ineligible for the start of the season, the 6’8″ forward from Haddonfield was only able to practice with the team just a day before the Ramapo game. Despite that, Brennan didn’t hesitate to give Fleming big minutes in his first game with the team.

Fleming shared his thoughts about how it felt to be trusted this early on by Brennan.

“It’s very reassuring because Coach Brennan is my guy. He recruited me way back when I was in high school and he was the assistant coach at Rowan… out there today I wasn’t sure if I’d get a lot of minutes or just some minutes but it feels good to do what I did,” Fleming said.

It’s also clear that Fleming brings a different element to the team, one that they were lacking beforehand.

“Fleming is a big piece, he rebounds the heck out of the ball and can shoot the three while also defensively being a true shot-blocking presence down low, which is something we didn’t have before but I believe we do now,” Brennan said.

Now with the addition of Fleming and senior guard Booty Butler set to return from injury sometime in the future, Brennan has found himself a very deep group of guys and will need to decide how to best utilize each one of them.

“It’s more difficult than I think people realize and the difficulty comes with the guys being okay and understanding that it might be someone else on any given night… we’re deep and we could throw out a ton of different rotations based on the matchup,” Brennan said. “For us, it’s everybody buying into the team and understanding it could be somebody else getting those minutes that’s gonna help us win in the end.” 

Brennan and the Profs will look to close out the month of January with a win as they get set to make a trip up to Camden, NJ on Wednesday, Jan. 31, to take on the 10-10 Rutgers-Camden Raptors.

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