Fast start propels RU blowout
Back on Jan. 4, the Rutgers women’s basketball team needed more than 20 minutes of game time to pull away from Houston at the Louis Brown Athletic Center.
Last night in Texas, it took the Scarlet Knights hardly five minutes.
Rutgers quickly imposed its will on the AAC’s bottom feeder, turning an early 18-3 run into a 19-point halftime lead and eventual 74-42 rout. A fourth straight win pushed the Knights’ (19-5, 10-3) third-place conference lead over South Florida to a game and a half.
With 2:17 remaining, sophomore forward Rachel Hollivay fouled out of the game after playing only 14 minutes with physicality issues most of the night.
It hardly mattered.
By that point Rutgers’ 19-point halftime lead ballooned to 34. A 9-0 run with 14 minutes to go fueled the blowout.
Four Knights finished in double figures, while Houston (5-19, 1-12) shot a dismal 26 percent from the field.
Center Yasmeen Thompson had a big night on the glass for Houston with 24 points and 13 rebounds, but she lacked a support system. No other Cougar reached double figures, and only one of Thompson’s teammates hit more than two field goals.
As a whole Houston converted just 1-of-11 3-pointers, turned the ball over 22 times and shot only 62.5 percent from the free-throw line.
Rutgers, meanwhile, produced one of its most efficient outings.
The Knights shot nearly 50 percent overall and a season-high 94 percent from the foul line. Sophomore Kahleah Copper, who tied for the team lead with 16 points, hit a perfect 8-of-8 on foul shots.
Not even early foul trouble to the Knights’ leading scorer could hinder Rutgers.
After picking up her second foul seven minutes into the first half, Copper had already collected 10 points.
Freshman point guard Tyler Scaife picked up the slack after that, scoring 10 points in the frame. She matched Copper with 16 points to go along with five rebounds, five assists, two steals and three blocks.
Junior wing Betnijah Laney added 14 points and six boards. Sophomore guard Briyona Canty chipped in 12 points and three assists.
After converting two field goals in the opening three minutes, the Cougars produced as many the rest of the first period. Houston entered halftime with just 14 points — the least in a half for a Rutgers opponent this season — on 18-percent shooting.
Head coach C. Vivian Stringer became the second coach in school history to compile 400 wins, joining Theresa Grentz, who racked up 434 from 1976-1995.
Following a two-game Texas tilt, the Knights return to the RAC on Saturday to play host to Central Florida.
For updates on the Rutgers women’s basketball team, follow Greg Johnson on Twitter @GregJohnsonRU. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @TargumSports.