Rowan women’s basketball drops a crucial NJAC game to NJCU

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Sabrina Araujo scans the defense. Araujo recorded a team-high 12 points in the loss to NJCU. - Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024. - Photo via Lee Kotzen

In a game where Rowan spoiled New Jersey City University’s (NJCU) dream of a New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) title by beating them in Jersey City last season, NJCU sought revenge in this game, preventing Rowan from clinching a postseason berth in Glassboro. NJCU accomplished this by defeating Rowan by a score of 56-44.

In what was a low-scoring game throughout, the Profs proved no match for the NJCU Gothic Knights on the boards. Every time NJCU missed a shot, it felt like they secured their own rebound, leading to 15 second-chance points. This was crucial down the stretch of the game as the Gothic Knights were able to bleed the clock out with the extra possessions.

“That was our biggest message,” Pearson said. “We said, ‘Find a body and grab the rebound.’ We just have to be better. We need to prevent them from getting second chances. If we get the stops, we have to make sure there is not a second chance for them.”

Despite Pearson’s messaging, the team was unable to box out throughout the game. One player who knows the team has to prevent extra possessions for the opposing team was the team’s leading scorer, Sabrina Araujo, who finished with 12 points.

“We need to focus on being more aggressive,” Araujo said. “We gotta give it to them; they were more aggressive than us. We talked in the locker room that we cannot be afraid to be aggressive.”

Araujo was one of the few bright spots for the team. If she got an open shot, it usually resulted in Rowan putting points on the board. Out of the six threes Rowan made, Araujo made half of them.

“I liked that they were looking to get me open shots,” Araujo said. “When I am hot, I feel like my teammates get me the ball. They know I will knock them down. Very good ball movement.”

Despite giving up second-chance points, the Profs had a nice game defensively otherwise, especially against Damaris Rodriguez, one of the best players in all of Division III basketball. Although she finished with 21 points, it was on an inefficient 9-24 shooting.

“We wanted to take the ball out of her hands,” Pearson said. “She is gonna score regardless, but we wanted to make it harder for her. We were able to do that in segments. Unfortunately, we were not able to sustain it throughout.”

The defense was not just good against Rodriguez; they also defended the Gothic Knights to a low 33 percent shooting. Additionally, Rowan made more threes than NJCU, with only the Gothic Knights making just four threes.

“I think we can definitely build on this performance,” Araujo said. “We need to work harder on offense, but I feel like our defense was there. We just gotta hit our shots.”

Despite this loss, Rowan still controls their destiny in the final few games. All they need is one win against Rutgers-Newark or Montclair State to clinch a spot in the NJAC tournament. Rutgers-Newark, being 1-15, will be the Profs’ best shot at making the playoffs, while Montclair State, at 5-11, is still a winnable game for Rowan. With a win, the team will be locked into the sixth seed and will be on the road for the rest of the season.

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