Poor shooting highlights offensive woes
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. — In attempting to collect its third consecutive victory and reach .500 in Big East play, the Rutgers women’s basketball team failed to end persisting trends, even with favorable conditions in its 45-42 loss to Seton Hall.
The Scarlet Knights (11-8, 2-4) have not won a road game since Nov. 21 at Temple largely because of inefficient shooting from the field and turnover problems.
Their contest with Seton Hall yesterday was hardly different.
Despite the Pirates (8-12, 3-4) allowing 60.5 points per game before the game, they granted the Knights only 42, well below their season average of 57.6.
The offensive woes were particularly apparent in the first half, when Rutgers shot only 33 percent from the field and committed 10 turnovers.
While the Pirates were equally sloppy with the ball, they scored 14 points off Rutgers turnovers in the period. The Knights offense could not cash in to the same extent, scoring only nine points off turnovers.
Seton Hall head coach Anne Donovan stressed how the Pirates forced Rutgers — a poor jump-shooting team — to beat them from the outside early in the game to build instant momentum.
“Our plan was to be in a zone press, try to slow them down, give them less clock to work with,” she said. “And I think that boded pretty well for us.”
Rutgers had difficulty establishing any sort of balanced offensive attack — let alone a dominant scorer. Senior guard Erica Wheeler was the only Knight to crack double figures with 10 points.
Head coach C. Vivian Stringer gave the Pirates credit and said they played tough and gritty, but insists the seniors must step up and help the team stay more composed and aggressive.
“I’m not trying to say anything other than they played well, but I’m tired of giving that story,” Stringer said. “We were sleepwalking, which is unfortunate, because it continues to speak to the immaturity of our team.”
With the teams deadlocked at the 2:55 mark, the Knights never scored again, and their field goal percentage plummeted back to less than 40 percent.
“We stressed before the game — always keep your composure against them, because they are very aggressive,” said senior Seton Hall guard Brittany Morris. “We just kind of came back together and regained our focus. We took it play by play and made sure we executed.”
Rutgers did not execute down the stretch and Stringer believes the Knights were often too lackadaisical.
“We walk out of there stunned and upset. I’m more upset than I’m pretending,” Stringer said. “But I look at this and I think we’ll be fine. That’s good for us if that’s the wake-up call. But sometimes you can call somebody and it’s too late.”
A reason for the Knights struggles this season can be attested to their performance on the road.
Rutgers has only captured two victories away from the Louis Brown Athletic Center, resulting in a 2-7 record in away contests.
Even a contest less than an hour from campus could not get the Knights a road win.
The last time Rutgers found a win in an away game was Nov. 21 against Temple.