Rutgers looks to end losing streak at home against Indiana
Consistency has been rare for the Rutgers women’s basketball team this year, to say the least. The Scarlet Knights (6-17, 3-7) are in the midst of a four-game losing streak and winning their next game, a home matchup against Indiana, will not be an easy task.
Rutgers faces off against the Hoosiers (15-8, 5-5) for the first time this year and will have to compete against one of the best players in the conference, guard Tyra Buss.
Buss is averaging 18.5 points and 4.7 assists per game this year and has had multiple games scoring at least 35 points. Recently, she was named on the Wade Trophy Watch List. The Wade Trophy is the oldest and most prestigious national player of the year award in women’s basketball.
The junior sensation did not play like herself in the Hoosiers' last game though, as she scored just 7 points against Maryland on 2-for-17 shooting. Joining her for the Indiana game is forward Amanda Cahill, who is averaging 15 points and nine rebounds per game, giving the Knights the challenge of having to guard elite players in both the front and back court.
Rutgers has struggled to find consistent offense from any player during their four-game skid and head coach C. Vivian Stringer has tried multiple variations of the starting lineup to try to find a spark. Against No. 3 Maryland, that spark was junior guard Jazlynd Rollins, who scored a career-high 15 points, all in the first half.
“What’s been different for me is (that) I’ve been more focused in trying to keep my energy up for the team,” Rollins said. “(I am) just trying to step up and help out.”
Junior guard Shrita Parker has been the team’s leading scorer this year but has not been as prominent as of late. Leading the charge for the Knights during their last game against Iowa was sophomore forward Aliyah Jeune, who chipped in 17 points.
Even though the team has struggled throughout the season, Rutgers maintains a motivated and positive attitude every time it steps on the floor.
“We still have to have that fight no matter how many points were down,” Jeune said. “Don’t ever stop playing till the clock goes out. Just go into the next game with that fire.”
Stringer has not been satisfied at all with the way her team has been playing and even criticized her players after their loss to Northwestern just over a week ago.
“Unless we are much more aggressive and play with a much higher level of intensity and fight, we’re gonna have problems,” she said.
Given her history as a head coach, Stringer holds every one of her teams to high standards. Despite the inexperience on this year’s roster, this group is no exception. Stringer has cited the numerous mistakes made by the players were because of them not being responsive to coaching.
Indiana has tons of firepower on offense and the Knights will have to employ their signature defense in order to contain the Hoosiers. Their ability to consistently score points, which hinges on equal contributions from Shrita Parker, Aliyah Jeune and Kandiss Barber is even more important.
“Intensity, fight (and) focus,” said Stringer. “At the end of the day, that is what we have to do.”