Stringer receives second chance at milestone
With its NCAA tournament berth chances looking very slim, the Rutgers women’s basketball team returns to its own hardwood tomorrow for a matchup with No. 3 Connecticut.
DePaul snapped the Scarlet Knights’ three-game winning streak Tuesday, which also spoiled head coach C. Vivian Stringer’s first attempt to collect her 900th career win.
Rutgers’ road woes continued, and it came up short in a game that came down to the final possession. The Knights found themselves fighting back after a slow start once again, but it was not enough. They are now 3-8 away from the Louis Brown Athletic Center.
“We are not the best shooting team in the world, but we can play better than that so I was disappointed,” Stringer said in a statement after the loss. “The only thing I wanted was to just play hard and put on a good show. I thought we played more aggressively in the second half, but there was not a sense of urgency.”
Rutgers has become accustomed to its lackluster performances in the opening halves. It feels motivated in the second stanzas when trailing, sometimes by double figures, to fight its way back into games.
The Knights took that approach on Tuesday in Chicago. They fell behind, 35-19, at intermission and trotted to the locker room with a lot of work at hand.
With an offensive charge from freshman forward Rachel Hollivay, Rutgers outscored the Blue Demons, 38-25, in the second half. The Columbus, Miss., native poured in 12 points to help the Knights retake the lead.
Sophomore guard Syessence Davis tied the game after making a tough layup off of a steal by senior guard Erica Wheeler. Davis was also fouled on the play but failed to convert on the three-point play, leaving the game knotted at 57-apiece.
DePaul guard Brittany Hrynko shattered any hopes that Rutgers had of pulling off one of its biggest comebacks of the season. After inbounding the ball underneath their own basket, the Blue Demons got Hrynko a good look from behind the arc and she nailed the three-pointer with 10 seconds remaining to take a 60-57 lead.
The Knights had one more opportunity to force the game into overtime, but Wheeler came up short on a contested shot from long range. Stringer was denied her 900th win and has to try again back at home.
“You might not believe this, but I have not even talked to them about 900,” she told the Associated Press.
Rutgers faces the Huskies for the first time since meeting in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament late last season. The Knights fell in an admirable effort and will need the same type of attitude in Saturday’s contest.
The team’s dynamic is completely different from last year’s roster and now, Rutgers is playing for its season. In this last stretch of the regular season, the Knights must win every game for a realistic chance to clinch what would be their 11th consecutive NCAA Tournament invitation.
Rutgers has a big task at hand as it attempts to stop a team that just annihilated Providence. The Huskies (23-1, 10-1) crushed Providence, 105-49, in a competition in which every Connecticut player scored and recorded at least one assist.
The Knights (14-9, 5-5) look to halt the team that leads the nation in scoring with 83.8 points per game and propel Stringer into the record books.
For updates on the Rutgers Women’s Basketball team, follow Aaron Farrar on Twitter @AFarrarTargum.