Rutgers ends regular season with blowout loss to No. 12 Ohio State
Whatever hope the Rutgers women’s basketball team had of salvaging a tumultuous regular season with an upset over No. 12 Ohio State was quickly diminished, as the Buckeyes (25-5, 15-1) dominated the Scarlet Knights (6-23, 3-13) in all facets of the game en route to a 73-45 victory at the Rutgers Athletic Center on Sunday.
Ohio State used a dominating press to force 21 turnovers and completely erase any offensive tempo Rutgers hoped to gain.
“We had about 10 seconds on the shot clock (by the time the offense was set up). It shouldn't have been that difficult, but it was,” said head coach C. Vivian Stringer on how the press affected her team’s offense, “Not to take anything away from Ohio State but I’m more unhappy about the way we handled the press. Period. It’s as simple as that.”
On seemingly every possession, by the time the Knights would have the ball past midcourt and all the players had made it to their respective positions on the floor, there were about 10 seconds left on the shot clock and they were unable to run a play and it almost always led to bad shot selections and missed shots.
On the flip side, with only three guards available, Rutgers was unable to counter with a press that has made Stringer’s defenses feared over her hall-of-fame career. Ultimately, the Buckeyes were able to exploit holes in the defense and drive to the basket for open shots and trips to the free throw line.
“They could’ve had problems too if we had been able to press,” said Stringer. “But we didn’t press because we didn’t have the depth. It would have been good for us to have been able to press.”
Sophomore point guard KK Sanders had just one assist and six turnovers, a statline reflective of the problems that Ohio State caused for her.
Though this is the first season as starters for every player on the team, by game 29, Stringer expects a lot more out of her players and sloppy play does not fly for her.
“We gotta be a lot more calm, we have to be more patient and we have to play with a poise,” she said. “All the guards need to be confident in handling the ball.”
The lone bright spot at the guard position was junior Shrita Parker, who scored 16 points on 54 percent shooting.
Her teammates cannot say the same in regards to shooting percentage, as the Knights finished with a 32 percent mark from the field, compared to the Buckeyes’ pedestrian 40 percent. Ohio State did not have an exceptional day shooting the ball, though 22 points off turnovers and a 17-4 advantage in fast break points is what ultimately did Rutgers in.
“I can yell all I want but the long story short is we’re missing things,” said Stringer.
With the Big Ten Tournament coming up on Wednesday, the Knights will have a lot of work to do to play up to their competition. One area that has killed them down the stretch is their inability to get to the free throw line.
The Buckeyes took 20 foul shots in Sunday’s game and despite making just 14, held a huge advantage over Rutgers in that area, who only shot six free throws, making three.
“We gotta attack the basket more and we gotta hit some shots,” said sophomore Aliyah Jeune. “It’s the numbers that have to match up at the end of the day.”
The Knights will need to tighten up on the defensive end, as Stringer interjected during the press conference to note that the reason Ohio State took so many more foul shots was because of the wide open lanes the guards had to drive and attack the basket.
For a team whose identity is defense, Rutgers will need to flip the script come Wednesday in order to have any success.
“We can’t go in playing 20, 30 minutes,” said Parker. “We have to play 40 minutes.”