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Sunil Sunder Raj

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Rowan rolls past Ramapo College for fifth straight win

On Saturday afternoon at the Bradley Center on the campus of Ramapo College, the Rowan Profs and Ramapo College Roadrunners both entered the contest with impressive overall records. With no seniors on the roster, the Profs at 7-1 and undefeated in the NJAC (New Jersey Athletic Conference) at 4-0 while the Roadrunners with six seniors off to a 8-2 start and 2-3 in the conference.

Early on it was the experienced Ramapo College squad that got the upper hand jumping out to a 17-7 advantage in the first quarter. Rowan answered back scoring the last five minutes of the quarter including a trifecta from freshman guard Savanna Holt.

Profs Head Coach Demetrius Poles on the early struggles, “We started off really soft, not happy with the first quarter at all and think we got a little complacent, didn’t play defense and communicate. We switched up the defense, went to a zone and got us some free baskets off our defense and kind of helped out.”

Finding their shooting touch in the second quarter, junior guard Alexis Kriley scored five points that pulled the Profs to within two points and sophomore guard Grace Marshall capped a 13-2 run with a trey putting Rowan ahead for the first time in the game. Meanwhile the Roadrunners went ice cold from the field going over four minutes without a point.

“We have a quick defense, girls who want to dig in and told them to limit one per possession and did a really good job executing,” said Poles. “We want to pressure as soon as the ball is put inbounds and not get over half court, run the offense and want to disrupt everything. Our motto is relentless and disrupt everything and how we play and tools to do it and guards who stay in front of the ball.”

Rowan kept up the torrid pace in the quarter ending up outscoring Ramapo College 29-8 while shooting 45 percent from the perimeter to take a commanding 41-25 lead at halftime. Marshall netted 15 points while sophomore center Ayanna Johnson grabbed 14 rebounds.

In the second half the Profs continued to clamp down defensively holding the Roadrunners to 20 percent shooting from the perimeter. Offensively Johnson dominated the backboards pulling down 11 more while tallying 11 points and blocking six more shots finishing just short of a triple double with 17 points, 25 rebounds and nine blocked shots while Kriley chipped in with 10 points netting 16 points as the Profs pulled away for the 78-51 victory. Jenn Harsh led Ramapo in scoring with 13 points.

“I knew we were a heavy young team, let some players go and recruited pretty well the past couple of years but I told our freshman that throw away the labels and you are basketball players,” Poles said. “Just because you are freshman in this league doesn’t mean you can’t play and we have some young talent and an unselfish group that is the main key.”

“We have a we team, not a me team and on any given night Grace (Marshall), Nicole (Mallard), Eliana (Santana) or Kennedy (Brown) can go. We have a lot of weapons and don’t really look for one player and happy with anyone’s success and that is the nature of our team.”

Solid in all phases that were reflected in the stats, Rowan won the points in the battle 28-14, forcing 25 turnovers that led to winning the points off turnovers battle 22-8, second chance points 24-11 and bench points 29-11. The Profs outrebounded Ramapo College by a wide margin 66 to 47.

Poles on Ayanna Johnson’s performance, “She is a monster on the rebounds, both offensively and defensively. She can control a game just by rebounding and playing defense. She had nine blocked shots and tenacious on defense and had a big impact on what we do.”

Now standing at 8-1, 5-0 in the NJAC and winners of five in a row Rowan has two more games remaining before the year ends with participating in the Cabrini University Classic on December 30 and 31 against Eastern University and Cabrini University. Currently the Profs are tied with Kean University atop the NJAC standings.

“We have some out of conference games during the Christmas break,” said Poles. “We want to take it one day at a time and that is our approach because we are young and not trying to go too far ahead but we know the bulls-eye is on our back and people are going to be ready to play us. We see Kean right next to us and want to stay a step ahead and not try to tell the players and keep that in my head.”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Sunil is the Rockland Boulders Beat Writer for DoubleGSports.com and also covers North Jersey High School Sports
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