Rutgers out to avenge its previous loss to Hawkeyes on road
The Big Ten schedule has proven to be a roller coaster ride for the Rutgers women’s basketball team and it will look to right the ship as it travels to Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes Thursday night at 8 p.m. The Scarlet Knights (6-16, 3-6) are coming off of a disappointing home loss to Northwestern in which they only put up 37 points.
The Hawkeyes (13-8, 4-4) are coming off of a 19-point loss to No. 3 Maryland and just three games ago defeated Rutgers, 71-59, at the Rutgers Athletic Center.
“If we play the way that we just got finished playing Northwestern and we play Iowa the way we played (them) before, we will get blown out,” said head coach C. Vivian Stringer. “That’s a fact.”
Against the Wildcats, the Knights shot 25 percent from the field and put forth arguably its worst offensive output of the season.
The game against Iowa that Stringer mentioned was just three games ago and featured an epic collapse in the third quarter by the Rutgers. The Hawkeyes made all seven of their shot attempts as well as 9-of-11 free throws. It turned a 2-point halftime deficit into a seemingly insurmountable 13-point deficit going into the fourth quarter.
The Knights dominated the Hawkeyes on the glass, specifically in offensive rebounds, where Rutgers held a 23-4 advantage. But sloppy play doomed the Knights and they could not capitalize on those opportunities.
Rutgers has struggled with consistency all season long, as there are certain facets of the game in which it excels but shortcomings in other areas of the game come back to haunt it and cost it games.
Despite the poor results of the past few games, junior guard Jazlynd Rollins has stepped up and earned consecutive starts against No. 3 Maryland and Northwestern. Against the Terrapins, she scored a career-high 15 points in the first half alone. And despite the strong play of guards Shrita Parker and KK Sanders, Rollins has found a way to crack the starting lineup.
“What’s been different for me is I’ve been more focused in trying to keep my energy up for the team,” she said. “(I’m) just trying to step up and help out.”
The Hawkeyes on the other hand will be led by center Megan Gustafson, who had 19 points her last time out against the Knights. Ally Disterhoft has been a prolific scorer for the Hawkeyes this year but was limited to just 6 points in their victory over Rutgers.
Part of her lack of scoring success against the Knights is due to the consistent high-level defense that point guard KK Sanders plays. She is averaging 3.2 steals per game in conference play, most of any Big Ten player in conference games this year.
Rutgers will also look for a strong game from sophomore spot-up shooter Aliyah Jeune. She was the only player in double figures against Northwestern and has been one of the team's best three-point shooters this season.
“We just had a good game against Maryland so I think we still have to have that fight no matter how many points we're down,” Jeune said. “Don’t ever stop playing till the clock goes out. Just go into the next game with that fire.”
Stringer holds her team to high standards and as any coach does, expects maximum effort from her team for the entirety of any given game. It did not appear that she was satisfied with the Knights' effort against the Wildcats but is aware of what needs to be changed in order for them to leave Iowa City with a victory.
“Unless we are much more aggressive and play with a much higher level of intensity and fight, we’re gonna have problems. Intensity, fight, focus. At the end of the day, that is what we have to do," Stringer said.
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