FLUSHING, NY – The first milestone, everyone knew. The entire Queens College women's basketball team warmed up in special "Witness #11" game shirts, foreshadowing the historic feat their senior star had a chance to accomplish. Social media posts extolled how close Madison Rowland was to college basketball's revered 2,000-point plateau. The night's programs had Madison's picture printed on the cover, indicating her mission to everyone in attendance.
Already with 1,994 career points, Madison needed only six more points when the game between Queens College and Daemen College tipped off on Wednesday night. She had forty minutes to collect the points. She needed less than five.
Madison collected the defensive rebound off a Daemen miss with 5:53 showing on the clock in the game's first quarter, and pushed decisively upcourt to the foul line area. There she jump-stopped into a pivot, jabbing forward to shake the nearest Daemen defender trailing back. Finding herself more open than she may have expected, Madison rose up from free-throw range, almost indecisively, and rattled in the basket. The score was 10-5 in favor of the Knights. There was still 5:45 remaining in the first. It was unspectacular in every aspect except for one, the one aspect being what everyone around her seemed focused on.
With the basket, Madison became the fourth women's basketball player in East Coast Conference history to score 2,000 points, and only the second to break through the barrier in a Queens College uniform. She smiled, one of those pure ones that captured the moment in all its relief and joy. Knights' head coach Bet Naumovski called a timeout, and those gathered in Fitzgerald Gymnasium for Wednesday's game stood to praise Madison for her accomplishment. Queens College President Filix V. Matos and Assistant Vice President/Athletics Director China Jude were both on hand to present Madison with a commemorative gift at center court during the Knights' timeout.
"I'm so proud that she represents me out there," Coach Naumovski said prior to the Knights' game against Daemen. "I'm so proud that she plays for Queens College, that I have a chance to coach her. What she's doing is outstanding; it is history breaking.
"Everything she accomplishes, she deserves," said Naumovski. "And probably even more."
The second milestone was less noticeable, coming late in the third period when the game was already well in hand. Pressuring their opponents into rushed shots and uneasy decisions the entire game to this point, the Knights had already rolled out to a 59-29 lead with 2:35 remaining in the third quarter. This time around Merrick Rowland grabbed the defensive rebound off a Wildcats miss and started the Knights' offensive set. The ball eventually found its way back into Merrick's hands for her to pass on to Madison for another jump shot, this time going in to put the Knights ahead by their largest margin, 61-29, and also cementing her as the ECC all-time leader in field goals made with 796.
"This is a historic day at Queens College," said Ms. Jude. "Congratulations to Madison on becoming the second basketball player at QC to eclipse the 2,000 point mark. We're excited to follow her journey as she aims to surpass Sholanda Young as the school's all-time scorer (2,166 points]."
In what almost feels like an afterthought, the Knights defeated the Wildcats by a final score of 75-40 to extend their current winning streak to five games and improve their record to 7-1 in ECC play and 13-3 overall. Her historic achievements aside, Madison was brilliant throughout by recording her third career triple-double with 19 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists. MacKenzie Rowland had an outstanding game, scoring a game-high 30 points and 11 rebounds inching ever closer to her own personal milestone of becoming only the third player in Queens College history to top 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds for their career. Merrick chipped in 11 points, eight of which came during a frenzied stretch in the second period that extended the Knights' lead to 20 for the first time.
For Daemen, Leah McDonnell was the team's only double-digit scorer with 11 points. The Wildcats made only 26 percent of their baskets and turned the ball over 17 times in falling behind by the wide margin. They now stand at 2-4 in conference play and 5-10 overall.
Queens can make it six in a row at home during Saturday's conference battle with LIU Post. Game time against the Pioneers is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.