Rookie makes slick transition
Freshman guard Tyler Scaife expected to impact the Rutgers women’s basketball team, just not this soon.
“The competition is stronger and smarter, so finding success this early is kind of a surprise,” she said.
Coming in as a two-time Arkansas Girls Basketball Player of the Year, the AAC’s 10 head coaches picked Scaife as the Preseason Freshman of the Year. The point guard was the top recruit at her position in 2013, according to ESPN HoopGurlz.
Scaife has been a key player in head coach C. Vivian Stringer’s fast-paced offense this season, which emphasizes transitioning up the court quickly on offense.
“She just wants you to push it,” Scaife said.
The guard controlled the game in the Scarlet Knights’ recent outing Saturday night against Texas Tech at the Barclays Center. Scaife shot 8-for-13 for a team-high 18 points, adding four assists and two steals in 33 minutes.
“She’s doing really well, and that’s what we need,” said junior forward Betnijah Laney. “We need a point guard that can come in and score and also deliver the ball and look for everyone else.”
Against No.13 LSU on Friday, Scaife did not start but was effective off the bench.
In 21 minutes, she shot 2-for-4 from the field while making all her four free throws for 8 total points. She dished out three assists and grabbed three steals in the 69-65 loss.
Along with sophomore center Rachel Hollivay, the AAC recognized Scaife on Nov. 25 on its Honor Roll. She averaged 10.5 points, 3.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists that week, including a then-career high of 13 points in the team’s loss to UMass.
She is currently third on the team in points with 75, for a 10.7 per game average. She is also tied for second in assists, with 22.
“I’m excited for her. I knew it was coming,” said sophomore guard Kahleah Copper. “She was just waiting to stop thinking so much about the different things, about how we work, and once she figured it all out, she was ready to come out and score.”
Scaife found help in junior guard Syessence Davis, who averages a team-high 32.6 minutes per game with seven starts.
“She’s mentored me a lot,” Scaife said. “She helps me with the plays, makes sure I know the plays. Defensively, getting over screens on the court. She plays so hard, it’s rubbing off on me.”
The 5-foot-9 Scaife admits that her defensive play in college ball still needs to catch up to her improving offensive play.
“There are some things I’ve never learned, so I’m still trying to take it in and learn what [Coach Stringer] is trying to teach me, some of the concepts,” Scaife said.
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