Rutgers falls on road to No. 13 Ohio State
Knights struggle shooting, produce 39 percent clip
The Rutgers women’s basketball team entered Thursday night's game riding the high of an upset win at home, and was trying to pull off a similar upset on the road. But, it was unable to replicate what caused its success last Sunday.
The Scarlet Knights (18-8, 6-6) lost to No. 13 Ohio State (20-5, 9-3) 90-68, suffering their sixth loss in the last eight games. It was their second-worst loss of the season, behind their 88-60 blowout to Maryland last week.
Rutgers hung with Ohio State in the first quarter, keeping it a one or two-possession game for the most part. The Buckeyes held the upper hand though, hitting four 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes, and had a 5-point lead at the end of the quarter.
But, that was the last time the game was even remotely close. The second quarter was all Ohio State, as it outscored the Knights 29-13 and took a 21-point lead into halftime. According to fifth-year senior guard Tyler Scaife, it was a lack of focus that led to them falling behind.
“I feel like we gave the game away,” she said. “You can look at the box score of the second quarter, because the first quarter was pretty tight, but then we lost focus. I don’t know how to explain that.”
Rutgers actually outscored the Buckeyes by two in the third quarter, but it was far from enough to put a dent in their lead. The team wasn't able to come any closer in the fourth quarter either.
The main reason for the loss was the Knights' shooting, especially compared to Ohio State’s. While Rutgers had a field goal percentage of 38.9 percent (28-of-72), the Buckeyes shot 56.1 percent from the field (32-of-57). They were also very successful from behind the 3-point line, making half of their attempts (11-of-22), while the Knights made just more than 20 percent (4-of-19).
One game after holding then-No. 13 Michigan to its lowest point total in the Big Ten this season, Rutgers was unable to have similar success against Ohio State. The Wolverines were the second-best 3-point shooting team in the conference, yet the Knights only allowed five 3-pointers by them. The Buckeyes were the ninth-best 3-point shooting team, but Rutgers allowed them to make half of their shots from beyond the arc.
“We should have defended the 3 better,” Scaife said. “They had a really good shooting percentage the whole game.”
Ohio State had five players score more than 10 points. Kelsey Mitchell led the way with 28 points, and became just the fourth player in NCAA history to have 3,000 points and 500 assists in her career.
Behind her were Sierra Calhoun with 17 points, Linnae Harper with 15 and both Stephanie Mavunga and Alexa Hart with 12.
“We’re going to throw (this past game) out the window, come in and have a good practice the next two days,” Scaife said. “We play really well at home, so we need to keep that fight on Sunday.”
On the other hand, the Knights had two players score in double figures, as Scaife had 27 and senior guard Jazlynd Rollins had a season-high 14 points.
Additionally, junior center Victoria Harris collected a season-high 11 rebounds.
“We don’t want to lose, but I’m happy to contribute to my team in any way,” Harris said.
Rutgers now heads back home, where it will prepare to take on No. 10 Maryland on Sunday at noon. Even though the Terrapins were responsible for the team's worst loss of the season, the Knights are 12-1 at home and upset Michigan last time they were at the RAC.
And with the loss behind them, there’s hope that they can pull off another stunner in front of their home fans. After all, that’s what happened the last time out.
“I thought (this loss) was a learning experience,” Harris said. “This was frustrating, but we know why we lost and what we can do better next time.”
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