Rutgers season ended by Wisconsin in Big Ten Tournament
Six games into the Big Ten portion of its schedule, the Rutgers women’s basketball team sat at 3-3 in conference play, including a dominant 16-point victory over Wisconsin, in which the Scarlet Knights tied a program record for three-pointers made in a game.
Ever since then, things have gone down hill for Rutgers (6-24, 3-14), as it closed its season with its 11th straight loss, the final one being a 61-55 defeat at the hands of the Badgers (9-21, 3-13) in the Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday.
Heading into the tournament, despite double-digit consecutive losses, junior guard Shrita Parker remained positive about the postseason, saying that she believed that the Knights could make some headway during the tournament, given that it is March, a month famous for major upsets in college basketball.
“Everything happens in March. It’s a miracle. We can go in the Big Ten (Tournament) and we can shock people,” she said. “I believe in my teammates and I’m pretty sure they believe the same.”
And as time wound down during the fourth quarter, one could foresee a miracle for Rutgers as they closed a 21-point third quarter deficit to just 6 points with 35 seconds left, thanks to effectively pressing its defense, leading to numerous turnovers by Wisconsin and more shots for the Knights.
But it wasn’t enough and this loss was not a complicated one for Rutgers. The stats speak for themselves, as the Knights shot just 27 percent from the field while the Badgers were nearly twice as efficient, making 50 percent of their shots.
With the loss bringing Rutgers to 6-24, it clinched the worst season in head coach C. Vivian Stringer’s career as head coach of the Knights.
Their winning statistic of 20 percent is also the worst in the 43 years of Rutgers women’s basketball.
The lack of success is not complicated, as Rutgers simply could not shoot the ball. Against Wisconsin, they shot the ball a staggering 27 more times than the Badgers, but somehow made two less shots. The difference in shots stems from the Knights holding a 23-6 advantage in offensive rebounding.
And with 23 opportunities for second-chance points, they were only able to tally 13 points in that area.
Rutgers also found itself in foul trouble for most of the game, with two players fouling out.
Sophomore wing Aliyah Jeune, who has been one of the team’s best three-point shooters this season, fouled out in just the third quarter, with 1:57 left in the penultimate period.
Sophomore center Desiree Keeling also fouled out, picking up her fifth with just over four minutes remaining.
After the regular season finale against Ohio State, Stringer aired her frustrations with her team, stemming from the Knights’ inability to shoot, her lack of confidence in their ability to press and their lack of aggressive behavior on offense.
“At the end of the day, there are basic fundamentals of the game that we have obviously not learned. Even until the last game,” she said.