Down at half, Knights win ugly one vs PVAM
Down by one entering the second half last night against Prairie View A&M, history was not on the side of the Rutgers women's basketball team.
The Scarlet Knights were 0-4 entering last night's game when trailing at the half, but a 7-2 run in the final minutes and the versatile play of sophomore guard Khadijah Rushdan were just enough to pull out a 50-45 victory over the Panthers at the Louis Brown Athletic Center.
"It gets hectic out there," Rushdan said. "I'm going to do whatever the team needs me to do. I felt like I needed to help … I wanted to try and step up and do anything that I could."
The guard finished with eight points, three steals, three rebounds and four assists, but most importantly Rushdan was the lone Knight to play significant minutes and not commit a single turnover.
The Knights were bitten by the turnover bug yet again, giving the ball away 19 times.
The Panthers' ball control was no better, as PVAM committed 19 turnovers, leading to 15 of Rutgers' points.
"[The turnovers were] a flashback to Princeton and Temple," said an exasperated Rutgers head coach C. Vivian Stringer. "They were unforced, totally unnecessary."
Fresh off missing a double-double in her last game, sophomore forward Chelsey Lee led the Knights in scoring and rebounds with 12 and eight, respectively. The game marks the third time this season Lee has scored in double figures.
Senior guard Brittany Ray added 11 points of her own, the 13th time in 16 games Ray has scored in double digits dating back to last season.
Rutgers struggled to build momentum until the last three minutes.
Ray hit two free throws and followed up with a jump shot from the corner to give the Knights a 47-43 advantage — Rutgers' largest lead of the game since being up 6-2 two minutes into the first half.
"We wanted to make it very difficult for Rutgers to score," said Prairie View head coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke. "But as I said last year, the cream always rises to the top and Brittany Ray hit that three pointer [in the second half] that really hurt us."
Though Rutgers finished the game shooting nearly 39 percent from the floor, it was plagued by missed open shots. The Knights could not get their layups to fall but were bailed out by their offensive rebounding with 17 boards. Rutgers outrebounded the Panthers 37-27 in the game.
"The sad part about it is everybody else was [open] point blank," Stringer said. "All we can do is get you the shot and you have to hit shots."
While freshman forward Monique Oliver saw 13 minutes after sitting out last game, Erica Wheeler and Christine Huber, the Knights' other two freshmen this year combined for only five minutes yesterday.
"They forget the basic things, until Erica can remember her name, basically, and Chris [Huber] can contribute in the way that we need [it's difficult]," Stringer said. "We have no intention of playing them only two, three or seven minutes a game."
Rutgers was saved by its post play in the second half. Lee and Oliver combined for eight of the Knights' first nine points to start the second half, propelling RU to a 28-25 lead.
"Sometimes you take [turnovers] into consideration you don't want to do it but you do it because you're so overanxious," Ray said. "They come from traveling or not making sure we keep our pivot foot down, just the little things."