July 23, 2018 | ° F

Elite team stymies RU in opener

Photo by Willy Melot |

Sophomore forward Christa Evans had career highs in points and rebounds.

As the Rutgers women’s basketball team kicked off its season in a building in which it had never won a game, the Scarlet Knights came up short in gaining a win on the road.

The Knights fell to No. 10 Georgia, 57-51, in their season opener Sunday at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga.

Seniors Erica Wheeler and Chelsey Lee each had double-figure games. The duo combined for 23 points to pace the Knights.

Sophomore forward Christa Evans recorded a career-high nine points and nine rebounds in the loss.

Photo: Conor Alwell

Senior guard Erica Wheeler led the Knights with 12 points on 5-for-14 shooting from the field Sunday in a loss at Georgia.

Wheeler led all players with a 12-point outing and went 5-for-14 from the floor. She also knocked down two shots from behind the arc. Lee, who returned to the hardwood for the first time since 2011, chipped in with 11 points of her own, collecting the first four points of the game.

The Lady Bulldogs (1-0) finished the game with four of their five starters in double digits. Guard Khaalidah Miller led Georgia with 12 points. Forwards Anne Marie Armstrong and Jasmine Hassell and guard Jasmine James chipped in 10 points each to clinch the win.

Down the stretch, Rutgers (0-1) trailed, 48-40, until sophomore guard Shakena Richardson  drained a long 3-pointer from the top of the key to pull the Knights closer six minutes left in the game.

The Bulldogs responded relentlessly in the end, managing to build a 10-point cushion with two minutes left after making eight of nine attempts from the field.

As the teams emerged from the locker rooms to begin the second half, Rutgers had a response to the ending of the first. The Knights came out with energy, opening on an 11-1 run of their own. Rutgers did not allow a field goal to Georgia’s goal for over seven minutes.

The Knights got themselves back into the game, getting within 31-29 with a bucket from sophomore forward Betnijah Laney with 12:15 remaining.

The Lady Bulldogs kept the Knights from getting any closer. With a little more than eight minutes left in the game, guard Erika Ford extended Georgia’s lead to 40-34 after hitting a free throw and connecting on a layup.

The Knights showed good post presence in the opening game. The team dominated in the paint, picking up 32 points down low and out-rebounding Georgia, 42-29. But the Knights struggled in maintaining possession of the ball.

The Lady Bulldogs converted 26 Rutgers turnovers into 18 points.

The Knights also struggled from the charity stripe, going 3-for-11 from the line, all in the second half.

The two teams went head-to-head in front of a crowd of almost 3,700. The Knights kept it close in the beginning. Knotted at 12 midway through the opening half, the Lady Bulldogs went on a 16-6 run to take a 10-point lead at 28-18 to close the half.

Rutgers returns home to prepare for its home opener, as the Knights hope to get their first win when they face George Washington at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Louis Brown Athletic Center.

By Aaron Farrar

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