Forward sinks game-winning layup as time expires
With 15 minutes left in the second half yesterday, the Louis Brown Athletic Center went silent.
Junior forward Betnijah Laney took a hard fall on the baseline and lay in agony with her right knee buckled. As trainers helped her off the court, she was unable to put pressure on her right foot and did not return.
Without their leading rebounder, the Scarlet Knights faced a war of attrition with LaSalle. Two largely stagnant offenses struggled to distance themselves, but Rutgers sunk the game-winning layup with 0.5 seconds to prevail, 59-57.
After sophomore guard Precious Person converted the first of two free throws with 30.5 seconds left to tie the game, the Knights gained possession on a jump ball on the miss, setting the stage for late heroics.
Junior point guard Syessence Davis received a pass from Person and milked the clock at the top of the key. With time ticking away, she drove into the lane and found junior power forward Christa Evans alone in the post for the game winner.
“I saw my defender go up on her a little bit, so we had just enough space so she could pass the layup,” Evans said. “She’s very good at seeing the open player in the open court and made a great pass.”
With sophomore forward Rachel Hollivay out with a concussion and sophomore forward Ariel Butts also sidelined with injury, Evans was one of two Knights who had to step up down low.
Junior forward Alexis Burke also saw extended burn, contributing 8 points — all in the second half — three rebounds and an assist in 23 minutes.
“Alexis is an experienced player, and it meant a lot,” Stringer said. “The good thing we take away from this game is we demonstrated — it was an ugly game, true — … but I think that because each of them know who is playing in the same position and what their backup is, they’re coming together truly as a team.”
For the Knights, it culminated an afternoon’s grind. After leading by double figures for much of its first two contests, Rutgers’ largest lead against LaSalle was 6 points.
The Knights struggled to generate efficient scoring in the half court against the Explorers, often settling for jumpers and forcing ill-advised passes through the lane.
Rutgers finished with a season-high 24 turnovers.
“It was just more so being patient, and I feel like sometimes we were kind of rushing it because of the momentum of the game and we started to lose our focus,” Davis said. “The zone wasn’t really bothering us. It was more so us, so we just needed to take charge of our game and play our game the way we should’ve. We kind of played a little sloppy, but we can clean it up.”
For updates on the Rutgers women’s basketball team, follow Greg Johnson on Twitter @GregJohnsonRU. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @TargumSports.