Wheeler keeps rolling after scoring success in Cali
Guard Erica Wheeler built on an impressive California trip with another scoring boost off the bench in the Scarlet Knights' 54-53 victory last night over Princeton.
Wheeler, a 5-foot-7 sophomore from Miami, dropped eight points on 3-of-7 shooting from the floor.
"A great spark," said junior guard Khadijah Rushdan on what Wheeler brings off the bench. "She's not necessarily concerned with herself, not thinking, ‘I get to start because I've been shooting it well.' She loves being that extra energy."
Wheeler has just four career starts — all coming last season — but averages 28 minutes per game through three games this season off the bench.
In the first half alone, Wheeler scored eight points on a perfect 3-for-3 shooting clip in 11 minutes but fell off in the second half without scoring a bucket and turning it over seven times on the game.
"She can play," said head coach C. Vivian Stringer. "I think [she and junior forward April Sykes] are playing very well, much better than all of last year, so I hope that they won't worry about anybody else."
Freshman guard Daisha Simmons saw her most significant playing time to date, scoring a career-best four points in 16 minutes.
Simmons struggled early on, committing three turnovers in her first five minutes, but calmed down after that and did not commit a turnover in her last 11 minutes.
The Knights took the floor at the Louis Brown Athletic Center for the first time this season after beginning this year's campaign on the West coast.
A total of 2,518 fans were in attendance for the first home game in Stringer's 16th season at Rutgers and 40th as a head coach.
"It was exciting to be playing on a brand new floor," said junior forward Chelsey Lee. "It was always great to open up home and everyone's cheering for you."
Lee wore No. 52 for the game to honor paralyzed Rutgers football junior defensive tackle Eric LeGrand. Lee's number-change from 34 to 52 is a permanent change for the season.
"We came in together freshman year," Lee said. "As freshmen, we lived together the whole summer, so we got to know each other pretty well over the past two years. I'm not a football fan, but when I went to the games I made sure I talked to him after the games."
The win yesterday by the Knights is the 15th win over in-state rival Princeton in 16 games between the two schools.
North Carolina A&T is up next for the Knights (1-2). Rutgers has a chance to even out its record as the heavy favorite, but A&T is no joke, winning the MEAC and making it to the third round of the NIT last season with 23-11 overall record.