Mountaineers await in Tourney semis
HARTFORD, Conn. — As the Rutgers women's basketball team went through its pregame in the bowels of the XL Center, No. 7 West Virginia outslugged DePaul to advance to the Big East Tournament semifinals.
The game mirrored many of the Scarlet Knights' games this season, with a defensive struggle keeping the score low. But WVU pulled away in the final minutes of a tie game, winning 47-41, behind 16 points from junior guard Liz Repella.
"We were just able to score enough," said WVU head coach Mike Carey. "If we hit our foul shots at the end then it wouldn't be as close as it was, but we didn't. We like to make things interesting."
The Mountaineers take on the Knights at 8 p.m. tonight after the conclusion of the Connecticut and Notre Dame contest.
Last time out, the Mountaineers defeated RU, 55-51 on their home court. RU had two chances to tie in the final minute, but WVU blocked a shot and forced a turnover to end the game.
"It's tournament time so they're going to bring whatever they've got," Repella said on playing the winner of RU and Georgetown. "No matter who we play, we're going to have to be focused and ready to play tomorrow."
To qualify for the quarterfinal battle with the Hoyas, the Scarlet Knights routed the 14th-seeded Cincinnati Bearcats, 70-44, Saturday night at the XL Center.
Rutgers matched its season-high with a 51.9 percent mark from the floor and senior guard Brittany Ray received substantial help on offense for the third straight game. Sophomores Khadijah Rushdan and April Sykes combined to make 10-of-15 shots and 27 points, but Ray led all scorers with 21 — sinking five from beyond the arc.
"It was good to see the improvement of everyone," said head coach C. Vivian Stringer. "I thought that the team played well together and seemed to be free. We communicated, and most importantly, were taking care of the rebounds and not turning the ball over as we have been."
Freshman forward Monique Oliver scored nine points on 4-of-4 shooting against Cincy and currently sits sixth on Rutgers' all-time single season list with a .607 field goal percentage going into yesterday's game.
She is the first player to shoot above 60 percent since Tammy Sutton-Brown did so in the 1998-99 season.
Prior to tipoff against Cincinnati, Ray received her plaque for making the All-Big East Second Team. Ray was the only Scarlet Knight to receive a post-season honor from the conference.
With her five three-pointers Saturday, Ray moved into second place in Rutgers history with 184 field goals from long range. She sunk the most three-pointers in a Big East game in her career and the most for RU since former guard Matee Ajavon in 2007 against DePaul.