Eli Cohen | Zack Rosen takes over in clutch
November 18, 2011, 1:11 am · Updated November 18, 2011, 1:27 am·
LAWRENCEVILLE, N.J. — Senior point guard Zack Rosen’s performance Thursday night in a 78-72 overtime win at Rider looked like something out of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
The floor general from Colonia, N.J., seemed like a totally different player in the second half and overtime as compared to the first 20 minutes of play.
Rosen didn’t attempt a field goal in the first half, but interestingly enough, coach Jerome Allen believes that was a result of the Quakers offense running smoothly.
“To start the game, we were pretty much getting whatever we wanted [inside],” Allen said. “[Rosen] wasn’t pressed. … He didn’t want to allow his opportunity to shoot the ball to supersede what was working for the team.”
After having carried the team offensively in the Quakers’ first two contests, Rosen took a back seat to fellow senior Tyler Bernardini and sophomores Miles Cartwright and Fran Dougherty to begin the game.
Indeed, Rosen’s noticeable absence from the scoring sheet gave Cartwright a chance to shine as the premier scoring guard for Penn, notching a career-high 27 points on 9-of-15 shooting.
“They put a lot of pressure on Zack,” Cartwright said. “He told me that he expected that before the game started and to just try and attack the basket.”
After the break, however, Rosen caught fire with his shot, scoring all of his 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting and dishing out two assists.
And it wasn’t a moment too soon. Rider forward Daniel Stewart was getting to the foul line almost at will in the second half and overtime.
Stewart made 12 of 15 from the charity stripe after halftime — he was 18-of-24 overall — as the Quakers big men couldn’t help but foul him whenever he went to the bucket.
“Whenever I got the ball, or a rebound, [I] just went up really hard,” Stewart said. “And they kept fouling me.”
Three Quakers big men — freshman Henry Brooks, Dougherty and senior Mike Howlett — fouled out trying to defend the post.
With the Red and Blue’s inside game practically neutralized in the last 25 minutes of the game, it was time for Rosen to show why he is the team leader.
Rider coach Tommy Dempsey certainly took notice.
“The ways that they like to get [Rosen] shots in their regular motion, in their regular sets, I thought we did a really good job of taking them out of that,” Dempsey said. “I think [Allen] decided in the second half that they were just going to spread the court for him, bring some ball screens out, and let him make plays.”
And make plays he did, but without forcing his shots.
Rosen’s first-half patience puts his second-half heroics into a proper perspective.
He knew when he had to turn it on, and did so in a big way.
“I appreciate the patience and the poise [Rosen] had,” Allen said. “He just allowed the game to come to him.”
ELI COHEN is a senior philosophy major from Washington, D.C. He can be contacted at dpsports@theDP.com.