Shooters offer challenge for Rutgers
With its season-opening win secured, the Rutgers women’s basketball team will look to continue its winning ways Tuesday night against Northeastern at the Louis Brown Athletic Center.
The Scarlet Knights had an impressive showing in their first game of the season last Friday against Saint Joseph’s, showing few signs of rust since last season.
But even with the convincing 76-52 victory, the Knights were not satisfied with their overall style of play and are working on correcting issues, namely on offense.
“We have to limit our turnovers and not be so anxious with the ball,” said junior wing Kahleah Copper. “We had a lot of travel calls in the St. Joe’s game that had a lot to do with not being focused. I think the unnecessary turnovers had to do with it being the first game of the year, and it won’t happen once we stay focused for the entire game.”
The Knights had seven turnovers in the first half against St. Joseph’s, a number they are intent on cutting down. It was not until the second half when they hit their stride in operating with efficiency and aggressiveness with the ball.
Even with the slow first-half start Friday, the Knights are confident that the more games they play will allow them to correct the issues on offense.
“It shouldn’t take too long from now,” said junior guard Briyona Canty. “We have been playing over the summer so our chemistry is there. Now it’s just the little parts and details such as running through cuts and moving with the ball, but I don’t think we are too far off.”
The Knights are preparing for a team that will present a different style of play and matchups in Northeastern (1-0).
The Huskies are also coming off a win in their season opener where they edged Boston University, 75-74. They shot .438 from the field and are not afraid to shoot from three-point range, going 7-for-21 from long distance.
Conversely, the Knights are not a potent three-point shooting team but do a solid job of defending on the perimeter. Rutgers held its opponents to 30-percent shooting from three-point distance last season.
On Friday, the Knights held St. Joseph’s to 29-percent shooting from beyond the arc and are preparing to do the same against Northeastern.
One of the key matchups the Knights will look to take advantage of will be in the frontcourt.
Rutgers believes it has a clear edge when it comes to post play since Northeastern was out rebounded, 48-38, in its season opener. The Huskies’ tallest starter is 6-foot-2 center Francesca Sally, while the Knights’ tallest starter is 6-foot-4 center Rachel Hollivay.
Getting the ball to Hollivay early and often will be key for the Knights’ success against the Huskies.
“Our post players need to take advantage of the size advantage they have,” Copper said. “We are going to give them a lot of looks so hopefully they play well.”
Even though these early season games will provide the Knights opportunities to examine what areas of the game they need to improve on, their approach to each contest is the same.
The Knights know they must play hard from start to finish in order to correct the issues facing them.
“We have to approach it with the same mindset as the Saint Joseph’s game,” Canty said. “The game isn’t over until the clock hits zero, so we want to play hard every possession.”
For updates on the Rutgers women’s basketball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.