Rutgers suffers worst loss of season at No. 11 Maryland
When in the midst of a slump, the last thing a team needs is a game against one of the best teams in the country, but for the Rutgers women’s basketball team, that’s exactly what happened.
The Scarlet Knights (17-7, 5-5) lost to No. 11 Maryland (19-3, 8-1) 88-60, on the road Thursday night. It was their fourth straight loss and fifth in the last six games.
“It was a tough loss, and it’s always hard to win big road games,” said junior guard KK Sanders, who then went on to describe the struggles that the team has been facing recently. “We haven’t really been in our rhythm, and we need to get back to together. It has to start in practice.”
The Terrapins established control of the game from the start, scoring 9 out of the first 11 points and holding Rutgers to less than 10 points for most of the first quarter. The Knights finally got into double digits right at the buzzer and trailed 23-10.
The second quarter was more of the same, although Rutgers had more success shooting, having a 43.7-percent field goal percentage compared to its 26.3 in the first quarter. Overall, it shot 34.3 percent in the first half, while Maryland shot 57.1.
The Knights started the third quarter well, outscoring the Terps for the first 6 minutes and nearly making it a single-digit deficit. But Maryland went on a 12-1 run to end the frame and pushed the lead to 20 for the first time all game.
The Terps continued their offensive attack in the fourth quarter, extending the lead to 30, while Rutgers was off-target and missed eight shots in the final 10 minutes. Maryland, on the other hand, only missed two.
While Sanders did highlight some problems that caused the Knights to lose, she was quick to credit the Terps first and foremost for their performance.
“They played extremely well,” she said. “They shot almost 60 percent form the field and 75 percent from the 3-point line. Down the stretch I think we made a couple mistakes defensively, and they swung the ball, got the open person and made shots … They capitalized when we went small and pounded it inside when we played smaller guards.”
Another issue that plagued Rutgers was scoring depth, except it was the opposite of a problem that they faced in previous games. This time, many players managed to score, but their main contributor was kept unusually quiet.
Fifth-year senior guard Tyler Scaife has carried the offense in many games this season, but Maryland held her to 6 points, her lowest total all season. Sanders led the Knights with 12 points and was the only one to score in double figures. Graduate student guard Nigia Greene and junior forward Caitlin Jenkins added 9 and 8 points, respectively.
Rutgers’ schedule doesn’t get any easier coming up, as its next game is at home on Sunday against No. 13 Michigan (19-5, 8-3), who recently had a six-game winning streak snapped by an overtime loss to Purdue.
The Wolverines have 2 of the top 10 scorers in the Big Ten in Katelynn Flaherty (23.4 points per game) and Hallie Thome (16.7 points per game). Flaherty also joins Nicole Munger as 2 of the top 3-point shooters in the conference, as they’re both in the top six.
Players are aware that they are losing games that they should be winning, but a multitude of problems are holding them back from achieving victory. In the midst of their roughest stretch of the season, they’re hoping that they can put it all together and get a win that could lead to getting their season back on the right track.
“This game is over, so we’re not thinking about it anymore,” Sanders said. “We’re just taking from it and learning from it. We’re looking forward to playing Michigan, adjusting and fixing our mistakes … These games are very winnable, but we just have to play together as a team and find a way to get our rhythm back.”
For updates on the Rutgers women's basketball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.