Copper comes off bench in victory
For the first time this season, sophomore guard Kahleah Copper was on the bench for tipoff. She was favoring her ankle in the Rutgers women’s basketball team’s 66-48 victory over Memphis last Saturday, a game in which she only played 16 minutes.
Copper, who leads the team in scoring, averaged just less than 30 minutes per game in 21 starts entering last night’s matchup.
She matched her average on the floor and added 14 points — 12 coming in the second half.
“We know we have eight or nine people that we feel comfortable with on the rotation,” said head coach C. Vivian Stringer. “I decided to try [switching the starters]. She was able to contribute in the first half but obviously a lot more in the second half.”
Copper admitted she was frustrated following her past two games and the first half of this game.
“I was struggling. They packed it in like I expected, and I was not getting what I wanted so I went to offensive rebounds,” she said. “I had four offensive rebounds and it got me started, and I started scoring in the second half.”
Sophomore guard Briyona Canty began the game in her place.
Canty has appeared in every contest this season but has not started since Jan. 4 against Houston.
She recorded one bucket and four assists in 21 minutes on the floor.
Both Canty and Copper started the second half after 10 and 12 minutes, respectively, in the first half. This time around, junior guard Syessence Davis was on the bench.
The Scarlet Knights kept the Bearcats to only 22.2 percent shooting in the first half, going 6-for-27 from the field.
Their previous first-half low came against the stout No. 1 UConn defense Dec. 29 when they only shot 7-for-30 for 23.3 percent. They ended that game with only 64 points.
When the Knights traveled to Cincinnati on Jan. 7, Rutgers held them to 25.9 percent shooting in the first half on a similar 7-for-27 shooting clip.
The Bearcats more than doubled their shooting percentage in the second half to 48.1 percent on 13-for-27 shooting to fuel their comeback bid.
“We seemed to be a step slow today for whatever reason, very sluggish and really not there, so that was not an enjoyable game,” Stringer said. “I have a headache behind it, but we’ll take the win.”
Cincinnati attempted 10 3-pointers in the second half and made half of them, after shooting only 2-for-8 from behind the arc in the first half.
“It comes to us not doing what we are supposed to do, what we talked about before the game, and I think that showed in the game,” said junior forward Betnijah Laney.
The end of the game came slowly as the officials discussed a foul against Cincinnati in the last second.
After a meeting of the referees, they would put 0.4 seconds back on the clock and have Davis shoot a 1-and-1. She made both shots to cement the 58-53 conference win.
Following an inbound, guard Kayla Cook attempted a shot from well behind the half-court line. She was met by an incoming Davis, and the resulting collision knocked both to the ground.
The shot came after the buzzer so no foul was called.