Oliver carries Knights on both ends at?Garden
After becoming the 32nd player to score 1,000 career points for the Rutgers women’s basketball team Thursday, senior forward Monique Oliver added to her total as the Scarlet Knights defeated Louisiana Tech, 73-46, yesterday at Madison Square Garden in the annual Maggie Dixon Classic.
The Las Vegas native wasted little time going to work in the post, collecting 10 points in the first half. Oliver showed off quick, swift moves in the paint, making it difficult for defenders.
She credited her opportunities to the way the Knights came out and pushed the tempo of the game.
“Our past games, we didn’t come out with enough energy,” Oliver said. “But I think [yesterday was] really a good start for us to continue to move forward. If we bring that much energy and that much passion in the first half throughout all of our games, I think we’ll be great.”
Oliver finished the afternoon with a team-high 14 points in 28 minutes. She added five rebounds and four blocks.
As Oliver led the charge offensively, the Knights pushed the pace and hustled to get easy transition baskets.
“We are looking at our identity offensively,” said head coach C. Vivian Stringer. “Most people look at [this] team and they’ll say, ‘Man, this team needs to be running.’ Believe it or not, I’m always encouraging them to run. I want them to run. We’ve been working on it.”
The contest with Louisiana Tech marked another game that Rutgers could not take advantage of scoring from the free throw line.
The Knights only made one trip to the free throw line in the first half, connecting on one of two attempts.
The Lady Techsters became acquainted with the line, taking 14 first-half attempts alone and 11 more in the following half compared to three for Rutgers.
The Knights have become acquainted with lop-sided comparisons.
In their last game against LIU Brooklyn, they only visited the charity stripe once before halftime compared to the Blackbirds’ five attempts.
But in yesterday’s matchup, free throws were non-factors for Rutgers because of its all-around performance from the field. The Knights outscored the Lady Techsters’ bench, 40-14. They received a big contribution from the second unit, led by a nice outing from freshman forward Ariel Butts.
The Columbus, Ga., native finished with six points, seven boards and two blocks.
“It was nice to see them be successful,” Stringer said of the team’s reserves. “It was good. Technique-wise, it was good. We do know that we have talent, but we’re young and we need to continue to work.”
Senior forward Chelsey Lee was the first player off the bench and was pleased with the team’s play from start to finish, something the Knights have struggled with in the young season.
“I think today we came out playing like the first half was the second half,” she said. “We actually put two halves together for the first time.”
The matchup with Louisiana Tech was the fifth time the Knights competed in the Maggie Dixon Classic. The two-game event is named after former Army head coach Maggie Dixon, who passed away at the age of 28 because of an arrhythmic episode to the heart a few weeks after guiding the Black Knights to the 2006 Patriot League title.
Dixon led Army to its first NCAA Tournament bid that season for any Army basketball team. The undetected heart disease caused her death a little more than a month before the coach’s 29th birthday.