Knights shoot out lights in Philadelphia as Rutgers starts season with win
It didn’t take long for them to prove their point.
Senior wing Kahleah Copper and junior guard Tyler Scaife combined for 54 points to give the Rutgers women’s basketball team a 78-65 victory in the Scarlet Knights’ season opener, on the road at St. Joseph’s.
The Knights (1-0) shot 54 percent from the field as Copper claimed the crown in her homecoming to Philadelphia, scoring a career-high 30 points on 10-of-14 shooting and collecting 10 rebounds in the 13-point win over the Hawks.
At Rutgers' Media Day on Oct. 27, Scaife vowed that she and Copper could push their performance to 20-point averages, while the senior stressed the pair’s focus on the 3-point shot in the offseason.
In the opener at St. Joe’s, Scaife poured in 24 points, shooting an astounding 75 percent, including 4-of-5 from 3-point land, as Rutgers began the season with a win.
The Knights were efficient from distance, converting 67 percent of their shots after finishing the 2014-15 season with just 2.3 three-point field goal attempts per game.
Last season, Copper fired just two attempts from beyond the arc, missing the mark both times. But on Friday night, she walked the walk, launching three trifectas and knocking down all of them to set a new career-best in both attempts and 3-point field goals made.
Senior guard Briyona Canty and true freshman wing Aliyah Jeune both had six rebounds in the victory, a positive sign for the Knights going forward after losing their top-rebounder from last year.
Former wing Betnijah Laney bolted the Banks for the WNBA after graduation. She was the 17th overall pick of the Chicago Sky in last April’s draft. The loss of Laney left questions as to whether or not the team could bear the load on the boards. The Scarlet and White answered Friday, finishing with 31 rebounds to St. Joseph’s 27.
True freshman Khadaizah “KK” Sanders scored 7 points off the bench in her collegiate debut and Rutgers held the Hawks to 9 points in the fourth quarter to help the Knights pull away in Philly for good. Head coach C. Vivian Stringer picked up win No. 433 for the team from Piscataway, in the official tip-off of her 21st season on the Banks.
Rutgers will ride back to the Garden State for game two of the 2015-16 campaign, taking on Seton Hall at 7 p.m. Monday in South Orange.
For updates on the Rutgers women's basketball team, follow @KevinPXavier and @TargumSports on Twitter.