June 26, 2019 | 87° F

Rutgers suffers emphatic blowout loss to St. John's in Queens

Photo by Jeffrey Gomez |

Sophomore guard K.K. Sanders opened the game with a three-pointer for Rutgers, giving the Knights their only lead of the night as St. Johns stormed out to a 20-0 run and never looked back in a 65-39 blowout in Queens Wednesday.

After a mentally and physically draining double-overtime loss to James Madison at the Rutgers Athletic Center Monday night, it remained in question how the Rutgers women’s basketball team would respond.

The answer? Not well.

The Scarlet Knights (2-9) fell to St. John’s by a lopsided margin, 65-39 on Wednesday night at Carnesecca Arena in Queens, New York.

On the Knights’ first possession of the game, sophomore guard K.K. Sanders hit a 3-pointer to put her team up 3-0. This was a pleasant surprise as Rutgers has not had success from beyond the arc and head coach C. Vivian Stringer openly said the coaches have discouraged players from taking threes at certain points in games.

The Red Storm (5-3), had quite the response. They proceeded to score 20 unanswered points, catapulting ahead to 20-3, stringing together that 20-0 run in less than five minutes.

St. John’s kept its foot on the gas for the rest of the first quarter and were leading 32-13 at the conclusion of the first period.

Sophomore guard Akina Wellere has been a star for the Red Storm this year and proved that in the first quarter. She had 12 points on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting, all of which were 3-pointers.

In fact, 3-pointers were the only official shots she took Wednesday night -- she did take a 2-point attempt but was fouled and made 1 of 2 from the line -- and was a dominant 6 of 7 from deep, finishing with 19 points. She was the only St. John’s player in double figures.

Stringer said Rutgers was at a disadvantage by not having anyone big enough to cover Precious Hall of James Madison, who set a Rutgers Athletic Center and JMU record with 46 points on Monday night. Hall is only listed 5-foot-8 and Wellere, a guard, checks in at 5-foot-11. Rutgers did not have anyone with a size and athletic combination to stick with Wellere and give her problems shooting the ball from behind the arc.

The early offensive fireworks did die out in the second quarter, as the teams only combined for 14 points, with St. John’s holding the 10-4 advantage and taking a 42-17 lead into halftime.

The Red Storm stretched their lead to 57-28 at the end of three and Rutgers got a few points back at the end, outscoring St. John’s 11-8 in the fourth.

The Knights once again struggled to shoot the ball as they finished the night with a dismal 24.6 percent mark from the field, as well as going just 2-9 from behind the arc.

Scoring-wise, they were once again led by junior wing Kandiss Barber, who put up 11 points while going 4-13 shooting the ball.

True freshman center Jordan Wallace saw the most action of her young career, notching 8 points and eight rebounds in 17 minutes of action.

Rutgers was plagued by foul trouble as well, as St. John’s went to the line 31 times, and made 22 of them. Meanwhile, the Knights only had 14 free-throw opportunities, most of which came in garbage time, and made just nine of them.

Rutgers needs to improve in many areas as conference play approaches. The Knights are back in action this Saturday night at 7 p.m. on the road against Houston.

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

Griffin Whitmer

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