Rutgers returns to action against in-state rival Seton Hall
In-state rival Seton Hall (6-1) will visit the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) on Friday at 2 p.m. to take on the Rutgers women's basketball team for a battle of New Jersey. The Pirates come into the contest having not won a game in the RAC since 1996.
The Scarlet Knights (8-2) lead the all-time series 34-10, and in the two teams' meeting last season, Rutgers came away with a 53-45 victory. Both teams have win streaks heading into the game — with Seton Hall winning four straight and the Knights winning their last three.
In order for Rutgers to come away with a victory in this game, it is going to have to take care of the ball on offense. The Pirates rank fifth in the nation with 14.6 steals per game, and 102 steals total on the season, leading the Big East conference. The Knights are only trailing behind slightly, ranking 17th nationally in the same category, with 12.4 steals per game.
In addition to steals, Seton Hall also forces a lot of turnovers having forced 167 so far this year, good enough for 24.3 turnovers forced per game, ranking it ninth nationally. Similarly, the team averages 21.8 turnovers per game, placing it at 29th in the country.
On defense, Rutgers will have to defend three Seton Hall players who come into the game averaging over 10 points per game. Six-foot forward Taylor Brown leads the Pirates in both scoring and rebounds, averaging 14.4 points per game, and 6.3 rebounds per game. Brown is not just a volume shooter either, efficiently carrying a 54.4 percent from the field this year.
Seton Hall is also led by Donnaizha Fountain, another 6-foot wing who scores 13.6 points per game and hauls in 5.4 rebounds per game. Sharpshooter JaQuan Jackson averages 13.4 points per game for the Pirates, while also shooting an impressive 47.2 percent from 3-point land. She is also a perfect 19-of-19 from the free-throw line.
For the Knights, fifth-year senior guard Tyler Scaife leads the team in scoring with 20.1 points per game. The next highest on the team is senior guard Jazlynd Rollins, who scores 7.8 per game. On the boards, Rutgers’ two best rebounders are junior forward Caitlin Jenkins (7.7 per game) and junior forward Stasha Carey (6.8 per game).
Following last game’s 52-43 win over Virginia, head coach C. Vivian Stringer had a lot to say about Scaife’s play so far this season.
“There’s a lot of ways she can score," Stringer said. "She can get to the rim, use the layup, go to the foul line and shoot. I just want the very best for her, and I’m going to continue to push her because I know what she’s capable of.”
Although Scaife leads both teams in scoring by a wide margin, Rutgers has no other players who average double figures in points per game, while Seton Hall has three. The ‘55’ press defense will have to be a focal point in the game for Stringer, as the Knights will have to shut down three players who average over 10 points per game.
Seton Hall also ranks higher than Rutgers in two key defensive categories — steals per game and turnovers per game, which has been a staple in this Knights team so far this year. The Pirates will have to shut down Scaife while continually forcing turnovers if they want to win this battle of the Garden State.
After Seton Hall, Rutgers will host two more in-state teams in Fairleigh Dickinson on Sunday and Princeton on Wednesday.
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