Oliver’s play makes up for RU’s lack of size
Even though Chelsey Lee did not don a Rutgers uniform, the senior forward was present on the Rutgers women’s basketball team’s bench in its 73-70 win against California.
But without the team’s leading rebounder of the past two years on the court, the Knights were at a size disadvantage against the Golden Bears. The Knights competed with the Golden Bears on the boards, with Cal holding only a 40-36 rebound advantage.
Oliver led the way in rebounding with nine to begin the season without her starting frontcourt partner from last year. The Miami native also scored 12 of her 18 points in the paint to give the Knights a 42-38 scoring advantage in that regard.
“I was just going off of my team’s energy and going after the other post players,” Oliver said. “A lot of the girls are much bigger than me, so I’m just getting around and moving my feet.”
Rutgers began its last two seasons with trips to California, and the three West Coast games all resulted in losses.
The Knights earned a different result by opening the season with a California opponent yesterday at the Louis Brown Athletic Center, finally solving the Golden Bears.
After dropping the 2010-11 season opener to California, playing in Piscataway may have made the difference in the 3-point win, and that could mean a stronger start for the Knights in its season opening two-game homestand.
“The point that Chelsey Lee was making was that last year we’d go down … and stay down, but that wasn’t the case this year,” Stringer said.
The Knights also lost to Stanford twice in California. But for the first time since 2008, the Knights begin their season with a 1-0 record.
The Knights shot at a higher percentage than California from the free-throw stripe yesterday at the RAC.
But what set the Golden Bears apart at the line was the number of times they got there.
Rutgers shot 15-of-20 from the stripe while Cal converted 19-of-30 chances from the line.
The Knights turned things around in the second half with a 16-10 free throw attempt advantage, but they dug themselves into a hole early with foul trouble.
Rutgers committed its seventh foul with 7:17 left in the first half to get in the penalty, which was partly what allowed Cal to shoot 20 free throws in the period.
But with additional depth, Rutgers was able to make up for the foul trouble from key players.
“We have 10 people. That’s kind of a luxury, so we figured ‘Let’s go,’” Stringer said. “We were trying to apply pressure into the trap in order to prevent easy baskets.”
Khadijah Rushdan and Betnijah Laney ended the first half with three fouls a piece, but the duo finished the game without reaching the five-foul limit.