Rutgers faces difficult Iowa team on road
As the Rutgers women’s basketball team rises in the ranks, another challenge comes its way. The No. 14 Scarlet Knights (15-3) will travel to Iowa City to face Iowa.
This will be another tough away game for Rutgers since the No. 17 Hawkeyes (14-4) are 9-0 at home. The Knights will be facing a tough Iowa team that has not yet lost a game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
As of Jan. 22, Rutgers has added another guard to its roster. Freshman guard Alexis Morris, who played her first collegiate season with Big 12 powerhouse Baylor, has decided to transfer to the Banks. She is eligible to play in 2020.
Morris averaged 9.4 points, more than three assists and nearly three rebounds per game as a freshman with the Bears. She was a part of a Baylor team that made the 2018 NCAA Sweet Sixteen.
“Alexis is a great player and her accolades speak for themselves,” said head coach C. Vivian Stringer. “Alexis blended extremely well not only with the young ladies on the team, but just as important, her style of play fits the mold of a Rutgers guard.”
Moving onto the details of the upcoming game, this could turn out to be one of the closest games that the Knights have experienced so far.
In this past season, the Hawkeyes have faced competition like Drake (13-4), on its home court, and have come out with a win every time. Rutgers has also played the Bulldogs, but that game ended differently than when Iowa played them. The Knights lost to Drake on Thanksgiving earlier in the season, in their first game of the Vancouver Showcase.
The Hawkeyes went up against No. 21 Michigan State, but lost by 14 points. The same result occurred when the team played Purdue (14-6), but Iowa lost by a closer margin of 5 points.
“We (have) an extra target on our back,” Stringer said. “And the greatest fear is that we would feel the pressure, even though we’re here. You can feel the pressure more because we know that the last time we were ranked and proceeded to lose, we never returned to the top 20 again.”
While Rutgers has only a .428 field goal percentage, Iowa has almost a full tenth of a point higher coming in at .522. A positive thing to note on the Knights' stats is that they average approximately four more steals per game than Iowa. Once again, this game is hard to predict.
"It's going to be special," said Hawkeyes head coach Lisa Bluder. "Rutgers is having a great turn-around season. They are shooting the three better than they have been. We have them in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, this is such a great opportunity for us to play the No. 1, undefeated team on our home court and it is our solo meeting."
Regarding individual stats, the most impressive number comes from Iowa forward Megan Gustafson, who has a .707 field goal percentage and has attempted 280 shots this season.
On the Rutgers court, senior forward Caitlin Jenkins has the leading field goal percentage with .592 and has attempted 76 field goals. While her record may be lower than that of Gustafson’s, there is always room for improvement in the heat of the game.
As a team, the Hawkeyes have an average free throw percentage of .757, while the Knights follow close behind them averaging .739 from the free throw line.
Senior center Victoria Harris leads Rutgers with a .952 free throw percentage after missing only 1 of 21 attempted free throws. Following right behind is sophomore guard Arella Guirantes with .800, making 28 of 35 shots.
“We’ve been here before, and it’s not like it’s the first time we’re ranked,” Stringer said. “We need to act like we’ve been here before. We don’t get excited about it. We should have been here in the first place. We’ve been a gritty, hard-nosed team in the first place.This is the way we play.”
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