Rowan men’s basketball gets one step closer to home-court advantage in the NJAC playoffs

Booty Butler scans the floor. Butler came through with his second game-winner of the season on Saturday against Rutgers-Newark. - Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024. - Photo via Lee Kotzen

On Saturday, Feb. 10, Rowan men’s basketball went on the road to Rutgers-Newark to face the Scarlet Raiders, a team that the Profs were able to handle with ease back on Jan. 13, emerging victorious by a final score of 95-56.

In this game, however, the Scarlet Raiders came ready to play and put up a much more competitive fight. It was a back-and-forth contest that was highlighted by a shot from Rutgers-Newark’s Russell Ayala to tie the game with 14 seconds left in the second half. On the ensuing possession, senior Booty Butler brought the ball up the court and head coach Eric Brennan opted to not call a timeout and let his guys play.

“Once I saw Booty had the ball in his hands, I remembered he hit one for us earlier with no timeouts, so I knew not to try and mess that up,” Brennan said.

The decision would pay off big time, as Butler, for the second time this season, hit a go-ahead basket with two seconds left on the clock to secure the 69-67 lead for the Profs. The shot not only won Rowan the game, but also allowed them to clinch a first-round bye in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) playoffs.

“I felt coach [Brennan] really believed in me because I was gonna run and call a timeout, but I looked over to him and he just waved me down, so that just gave me the confidence that I can really make the shot,” Butler said.

Butler ended the contest with 13 points, six rebounds, and four assists. Fellow senior Marcellus Ross led the team in scoring with 19 points, shooting 4-7 from three and a perfect 3-3 from the free throw line. Junior Josh Wright also came up big, as he was able to hit two free throws to extend the Profs’ lead to 67-64 with 30 seconds remaining.

“We trust him late because he’s a great ball handler and free throw shooter,” Brennan said. “A lot of credit to him for staying ready and like he did earlier in the year against Wooster, hit two free throws to help us win this game.”

On Wednesday, Feb. 14 the Profs will have one last regular season game that will take them to Montclair State University to take on the Redhawks in a game where the Profs will control their own destiny. A win means the team will be NJAC regular season champions and have home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. A loss and a Stockton win would mean the Ospreys and Profs would be crowned Co-NJAC regular season champions and home-court advantage would go to Stockton over Rowan.

“We want to go ahead and be the outright winner Wednesday night in order to have the chance of hosting the championship here in Glassboro,” Brennan said. “It’s tough to play in Montclair, but we’ve made plenty of trips this season, so I have faith in my guys that they’ll be locked in and ready to go.”

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