Freshman leads scorers after poor performance
Freshman Tyler Scaife only shot 1-for-9, scoring 2 points, in the Rutgers women’s basketball team’s game at Temple last Saturday.
She earned a vote of confidence from head coach C. Vivian Stringer and it paid off, albeit it in a 80-71 loss to No. 5 Louisville.
“One, I knew she had a migraine [against Temple] and, two, when a player demonstrates on a consistent basis, which she did, then you’re more likely to go back to them,” Stringer said.
Scaife ended the game with a career-high 25 points off 10-for-16 shooting in 37 minutes.
“She just sort of lost focus and she had other issues [against Temple], but she’s too good not to show up when the big games come up,” Stringer said.
From 11:44 to 8:00 remaining in the first half, the Little Rock, Ark., native was the Scarlet Knights’ most potent weapon. She scored all 11 of the team’s points off 5-for-6 shooting, and converted an and-1 opportunity.
The Knights were down 3 at the beginning of her run, but could only come within 1 point of the Cardinals.
Scaife would go on a similar tear toward the end of the second half, shooting 2-for-4 with 7 points during the one-minute scoring binge.
With sophomore forward Kahleah Copper — the team’s leading scorer this season — and junior forward Betnijah Laney getting into foul trouble early, the Knights bench stepped up on the offensive end.
Sophomore guard Briyona Canty played 28 minutes off the bench, with 9 points, four assists and two steals.
Junior guard Precious Person added another 5 points, including a 3-pointer with 4:21 left in the first half to bring the Rutgers within 1, setting up the run to their first lead.
For Laney the production by the bench was a relief.
“Myself, Kahleah and all my teammates on the bench were really excited to see that it wasn’t the starters out that were out there that were holding the game together,” Laney said. “So it was really calming for us to know that it doesn’t always have to be us. We can take a break and we have a team that is capable.”
The Knights grabbed their first lead with 2:56 left in the first half largely because of the way their defense disrupted the highest-scoring team in the AAC.
The Cardinals shot less than 40 percent in the first half and only 2-for-11 from behind the 3-point line. They picked it up in the second half though, shooting 47 percent from the field and making all 11 of their free throws.
“We had the lead coming out, and our game plan was to expand that lead,” Laney said. “And when it didn’t happen, we began to go backwards and it was really frustrating for us. I think our frustration led to us not really following what we had to do.”
Earlier in the season Nov. 22 against Howard, Copper said head coach C. Vivian Stringer threatened the team with double suicides if they did not shoot more than 80 percent from the free-throw line.
If it is still valid, the Knights will have just missed the punishment yesterday, missing only three attempts of 16 for 81.3 percent.
Scaife was perfect from the line on five attempts, and Copper was right behind her, shooting 4-for-5.