Rutgers suffers heartbreaking loss to James Madison in double-overtime
In a game that had just about everything, the Rutgers women’s basketball team was on the wrong side of an epic battle, suffering a heartbreaking 82-76 double-overtime loss to James Madison.
The big story of the night was the record-breaking performance by Dukes guard Precious Hall. Her 46 points were both a James Madison program record and a Rutgers Athletic Center all-time high. She was 15-for-29 from the field and 6-for-13 from three and had nine of her team’s final 11 points to seal the victory in the second overtime.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. She put on a heck of a performance. Forty-six points,” said head coach C. Vivian Stringer. “Do you think anybody could handle her? No. We just let her get the ball. We got the midgets out there and she shot over us.”
The Dukes went up 31-20 after the first half and hit a three right out of halftime. They went up 14 points and it seemed like they were running away with this one. But the Scarlet Knights showed tons of fight and went on a 17-1 run in the third quarter and re-took the lead at 37-35.
In the fourth quarter, James Madison seemed to regain control of the game and went up 58-50 under 2:30 left in the game.
Freshman guard Kate Hill, who has been ice cold from three this year, hit a deep one to bring the Knights back within 5 points. Sophomore guard KK Sanders followed that up with a three-pointer as the shot clock expired with just over a minute remaining to make it a one possession game at 58-56.
Junior wing Kandiss Barber then took over the game for the Knights.
She hit a layup to tie the game up at 58. After Precious Hall rattled in a jumper with three seconds left in the game, Barber collected a pass at halfcourt, drove with her right hand, and lofted a floater that sunk through the basket as the buzzer sounded.
“I looked up at the clock and was hoping (sophomore guard) Aliyah (Jeune) would pass it to me,” Barber said. “I knew the defense was letting up cause they didn’t expect anything with three seconds left. So I got to the basket as fast as I could, and I made it.”
In overtime, the Dukes built up a 75-70 lead with 40 seconds left. Aliyah Jeune hit a 3-pointer to bring the Knights within 2 points.
Rutgers needed to foul to stop the clock and sent Duke guard Logan Reynolds to the line. She missed the first free throw, which kept it a one-possession game. Junior guard Shrita Parker got the ball and drilled a three that went in with only 0.1 second on the clock, sending the game to a second overtime.
It was the Precious Hall show in the second extra period. She put the game away, scoring 9 straight points for the Dukes. Rutgers could not match that and the Dukes escaped with a victory.
“Kandiss was the only person size-wise that could handle her best, but she had four fouls," Stringer said. “You should have people grabbing you and saying ‘please let me play her’. That’s what I’m used to. Some people asked for it and I gave it to them and after she dropped 6 or 8 points in a short period of time, that was (the game).”
One positive to draw away was the performances of Barber and sophomore center Desiree Keeling. The two combined for 43 points with 22 and 21, respectively, with Keeling also grabbing eight rebounds.
Both were career-highs for them and they were crucial in keeping Rutgers in the game as they continued to fight back from being down most of the game.
“We never give up. That’s important. No matter how hard you try, it’s bound to happen. Somebody’s gotta lose and unfortunately we took it,” Keeling said. “We’re gonna learn from it and move forward and continue to grow as a team and get better.”
While Keeling was optimistic that the team can get better as the season progresses, Stringer was not too happy with the way her group played.
“I’m speechless. Totally speechless. And sometimes things are better off not said,” she said. “We're in front of our home fans and fortunate anyone would want to come see this mess. So that’s how I feel about it. It’s not nice. It’s an honor that our fans come. They have a right to expect a certain level of play. I hope that the other people have a lot of fans and maybe we’ll pretend that they’re ours.”