‘D’ puts scoring at premium
The Rutgers women’s basketball team’s 55-47 win against Georgetown last night was hard-fought and physical. Unlike the team’s lopsided victory Jan. 16 against Providence, the contest against the Hoyas was a test of defense.
Both coaches knew the contest would be a grind-it-out battle until the final buzzer.
“It was two teams that can defend and turn each other over,” said Georgetown head coach Keith Brown. “It usually comes down to what team imposes their will.”
The team that came away with key stops down the stretch won. The Knights found a way to keep pressure on the Hoyas the entire night and held the nation’s leading scorer, guard Sugar Rodgers, to only 13 points before fouling out.
“I think we did a great job as a whole and as a team,” said senior guard Erica Wheeler of the team’s defense. “Recovering out on her when [Rodgers] was open and taking the switch when it was needed, I think we did well with that.”
Head coach C. Vivian Stringer saw the physical intensity throughout the game.
“It was a matter of who was a better defensive team,” she said. “[Rutgers] takes a lot of pride in its defense.”
After dropping its first three conference contests, the Scarlet Knights had difficulty competing for 40 minutes. It often found itself fighting back from big deficits and coming up short in the end.
But the Knights’ early struggles in league play did not linger for the players, who have put together two impressive victories to pull within a game of .500 in the Big East. As the team returned to the Louis Brown Athletic Center against Georgetown, it appeared to be in an offensive drought. Rutgers could not buy a basket.
The Knights finished the first half shooting 42.9 percent from the field after a late surge.
Sophomore guard Shakena Richardson helped the team out of its offensive slump by scoring seven points to end the half and said the Knights needed to pick up their intensity.
Scoring points was not an issue for the team in its first Big East victory of the season on the road against Providence.
The Scarlet Knights poured in 45 first-half points in the blowout win, the most in an opening half this season. They shot 70 percent from the floor and seemed to connect on every possession.
In the opening half against the Hoyas, the game was knotted at 11 with more than seven minutes remaining. Following a timeout with three minutes left to play, Rutgers ended the half on a 12-2 run to take a 24-16 lead into intermission.
Early foul trouble was costly for the Knights.
Fifth-year senior forward Chelsey Lee made an early exit after picking up two fouls four minutes into the game.
She spent the rest of the half watching the action from the bench, leaving a heavy load in the paint for senior forward Monique Oliver to carry.
It was a tough break for Rutgers, as the frontcourt duo has been thriving in the paint and tends to create constant problems for opponents when on the floor together.
Lee’s absence forced other Knights to establish a presence. The frontcourt managed to hold its weight, helping pull down 19 rebounds in the first half.