February 23, 2019 | 43° F

Freshman leads RU past Owls

Photo by Tianfang Yu |

Freshman guard Tyler Scaife dribbles on the open floor ahead of trailing Temple defenders at the Louis Brown Athletic Center in the Knights’ 67-58 victory last night. Scaife led all scorers with 21 points on 8-for-18 shooting.

Rutgers women’s basketball freshman Tyler Scaife earned AAC Rookie of the Week last Monday for the fifth time in six weeks.

The point guard very well may be on her way to winning the award yet again.

She had a team-high 21 points in the No. 24 Scarlet Knights’ 67-58 win last night against Temple at the Louis Brown Athletic Center.

Scaife scored in double-digits for the 21st time in 26 games this season. She reached that mark with 7:52 left in the first after hitting an inside jumper and making the and-1 for a 3-point play.

It was also her fifth game this season with more than 20 points. She shot 8-for-18 from the field and made all five of her free throws in 33 minutes.

Temple’s defense crashed Scaife early yet she was able to hit two impressive step back jumpers over a set of Owl hands.

“I have to smile when I look at her,” said head coach C. Vivian Stringer. “She’s getting better. She’s a great scoring threat and we like that she’s playing much more consciously.”

Although Stringer praised the rookie, she added doubt about Scaife’s “shoot-first” mentality going into the postseason.

“She knows that we expect her to score in double digits. Again, she has to have a little more discretion and to hear [her teammates’] voices and to not be so toned so she makes the easy pass, which she had a little difficulty today doing that, and that’s going to cost us,” Stringer said. “But you can’t say enough about her as a freshman.”

After holding a 9-point lead with 1:42 left in the first half, the Knights went into the locker room only up 3.

They could not pull away from the Owls in the second half.

Rutgers led by 9 with six minutes remaining, but Temple fought back with a pair of 3-pointers by guards Monaye Merritt and Feyonda Fitzgerald. A layup and free three-point shot by forward Natasha Thames made it a 3-point game.

Rutgers went up by 7 as Temple missed four shots in a row, but the Owls could only muster up two more points in the remainder of the game.

“It’s a little frustrating but we have to realize everything is not going to be easy,” said junior wing Betnijah Laney. “We have to be able to respond to adversity. … Though it’s not our ideal position, we still came out with a win.”

Sophomore center Ariel Butts, getting her first start of the season, tied her season high of 6 points in just the first five minutes of the game.

“It was really good to see that we were versatile in the post,” Laney said. “We had three different body types, three different styles of play, so it was good to have someone else in there that could also get it done.”

Butts would not score again until 14:40 of the second half, ending the game with 8 points, eight rebounds and three blocks in 20 minutes. She also turned the ball over four times.

For Rutgers, a loss to a below average Temple team would have been detrimental to its NCAA Tournament hopes.

While the Knights are third in the AAC, they have no signature wins — with a 1-4 record against top-25 opponents and an RPI of 51, according to realtimerpi.com.

For updates on the Rutgers women’s basketball team, follow @TargumSports.

By Justin Lesko

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