GLASSBORO — Joe Fussner has coached the Richard Stockton College women’s basketball team for 21 seasons, and he said he has never seen a player have an easy time scoring her 1,000th point.
Che’Na Thompson struggled Wednesday night, but she finally hit the milestone.
Thompson scored 18 points, giving her 1,001 for her career, and grabbed 14 rebounds as the Ospreys routed host Rowan University 86-50 in a New Jersey Athletic Conference game.
“It feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” Thompson said.
The senior guard/forward scored just four points in the first half.
During one stretch, she missed open layups on back-to-back fast breaks.
“Tonight it looked like she wanted to get all 17 in two possessions, and you just can’t do that,” Fussner said.
But as the Ospreys (8 -3, 4-3 NJAC) stretched their lead to more than 30 midway through the second half, they began feeding the ball to Thompson.
The milestone came on a fast break with 6 minutes, 19 seconds remaining as Alex Nardoza passed up an open layup to give the ball to Thompson trailing.
The visitors’ section of the bleachers erupted in cheers. A toddler — Laielle Ramos, the daughter of Thompson’s former Stockton teammate Daimis Ortiz — donned a T-shirt reading “Nae 1,000 points.”
“She’s like a little part of me,” Thompson said, beaming. “It was a huge surprise. It was so cute.”
Thompson estimated that about 85 to 90 percent of the 50 or so Stockton fans in attendance were her friends and family. She is from Salem, which is actually closer to Rowan’s campus than it is to Stockton.
“I’m like, ‘I’ve got to do it,’ ” Thompson said. “I didn’t think that many people were going to come, but everybody came, so I’m like, ‘OK, I don’t want to let them down.’ ”
Thompson’s struggles weren’t Stockton’s only concern in the first half. The Ospreys dressed just seven players due to injuries, and Thompson’s minutes have to be carefully monitored because she plays with sickle-cell trait.
So when Sara Farrell picked up her third foul late in the first half and Tiana Cannon already had two, Fussner admitted he was worried.
Stockton used a zone defense for the first time all season to avoid fouls.
“We’re not really allowed to say this, but sometimes you fear the whistle,” Fussner said. “And once we get into those kinds of games, that’s where your fear is.”
But Stockton pulled away in the second half. Thompson’s milestone points put the Ospreys up 78-36.
Cannon, an Atlantic City High School graduate, finished with 19 points. Jennifer Galamb added 15 off the bench, including 13 in the first half. Farrell had 14 points and 14 rebounds.
Jade Bonder led Rowan (4-11, 0-67)with 13 points, and Atlantic City graduate Bria Hill added 12.
“It was an important game for me and my team, but especially for me because I played against two of my high school teammates (Cannon and Ta’yon Morgan-Jones, who sat out with concussion-like symptoms), and I wanted it bad,” Hill said.
The night belonged to Thompson, though — even after the rough start.
“At the end of the day we still got the ‘W,’ so I’m happy both ways,” Thompson said.
Notes: Fussner said Morgan-Jones is expected to return Saturday against Ramapo. Center Kelsey Brown (broken finger) is expected to miss another 10 days.
Contact Jason Mazda:
Richard Stockton College 40 46-86
Rowan University 23 27-50
RSC—Farrell 6 2-3 14, Ryan 3 6-7 12, Cannon 7 5-6 19, Nardoza 2 4-4 8, Thompson 8 2-2 18, Galamb 6 2-3 15, McMonagle 0 0-1 0. Totals 32 21-26 86.
RU—Russ 1 0-0 2, Krauss 4 3-4 11, Molina 4 0-0 8, Bonder 5 0-0 13, Hill 5 1-4 12, Avrov 0 1-2 1, Barilla 1 1-2 3. Totals 20 6-12 50.
3-pointers—Galamb RSC; Bonder (3), Hill RU.
Records—Stockton 8-3, Rowan 4-11.