July 23, 2018 | ° F

Guard tries to continue hot scoring for Rutgers

Sophomore guard Kahleah Copper topped her career high in points in both games this season for the Rutgers women’s basketball team.

Copper scored a career-high 26 points Wednesday against Northeastern and 16 Sunday against Princeton to top her previous best of 14 last January against Providence.

Her 26 points against the Huskies were the most for a Knight since the 2010-11 season when Khadijah Rushdan had the same amount against North Carolina A&T.

Copper earned a double-double as well, adding a career-high 11 rebounds.

“I came out really hard because I’m excited for our new season and to have a better year this year, and my teammates and coaches have been very supportive,” Copper said. “Everyone’s been getting me the ball and we’ve been outrebounding teams.”

She looks to continue her hot streak Sunday in Rutgers’ (2-0) game against LaSalle (0-1) at the Louis Brown Athletic Center.

The Explorers dropped their season opener against Temple, 60-47.

LaSalle played like a different team in each half against the Owls. The Explorers shot 35 percent from the field in the first half, while making four of 10 3-pointers. Coupled with a stellar defense that adding seven steals and three blocks, they led the Owls, 27-23, at halftime.

But in the second half, they could not find their stroke again, shooting only 7-for-32 from the floor while Temple shot 55 percent.

A third of the Owls’ points in the game came off turnovers. LaSalle scored 11 off turnovers, but they were all in the first half as Temple outscored the Explorers, 37-20, in the second half.

The Knights, meanwhile, took the lead against Northeastern and never looked back.

They led, 31-26, at halftime before going on a 16-point run with three straight lay ups by Copper.

Junior forward Betnijah Laney stepped up in her role as one of three captains, along with Copper and junior forward Christa Evans.

Laney recorded a double-double in both games, putting her career total at three. She followed her 14-and-10 performance against Princeton with 15 and 13 against Northeastern.

Laney contends that she does not worry about the numbers

“If we don’t get rebounds, we don’t get second chances,” she said. “The scoring is not the main focus going into the game, making sure I score ‘X’ amount of points.”

With junior guard Briyona Canty adding 12 points, three Knights made it to double-digits. Against Princeton, six players did.

“It’s just something that happened with our team chemistry and in practice and playing together,” Laney said. “It’s always good when you have any amount of players in double figures.”

Highly touted freshman point guard Tyler Scaife scored 13 in her debut, but only had 2 points Wednesday off 1-for-7 shooting.

“There’s things that she doesn’t do, that she might not remember, that all freshman do,” said head coach C. Vivian Stringer following the Princeton game, “and then my coaches will remind me ‘Don’t worry. When the lights come on, she shows up.’”

Graduate student Khristian Lee, an Alabama transfer, proved an all-around threat in her Explorers debut. She posted 11 points, eight rebounds, five assists and five steals.

Guard Alicia Cropper led the team with 13 points.

The Knights were almost untouchable last season at the RAC, finishing 13-2 at home and winning their first seven games there.

By Justin Lesko

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