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Second half defense helps RU pull away

The Rutgers women's basketball team can attribute last night's blowout to one thing —second-half defense.

Kean was helpless on its side of the ball, and whether it was turnovers, blocks or steals, the Scarlet Knights did something right to hold the Cougars to four points in the first 10 minutes of the second half.

"We did a better effort towards boxing out," said senior guard Brittany Ray. "Coach Stringer says we need to get bodies on people because even if you don't get the rebound make sure one of your teammates gets the rebound."

Points off of takeaways were one of the primary reasons for Rutgers' success — 35 of the Knights' 85 points came off of takeaways.

The defense was also very clean. Rutgers did not have to worry about being in the penalty for fouls until late in the second period, enabling the team to play a more aggressive game.

"With Vivian Stringer you've got to be intense on the defensive side," Stringer said. "You don't have time to shake your head and feel bad about what happened."

Nikki Speed led the team in steals with four, and Chelsea Lee and Rashidat Junaid remained workhorses down in the post earning three blocks each.

"Rashidat in the last game you did not see her put the ball down," Stringer said. "Now that's good for us because it means it cuts down on our team turnovers. Call it anyway you like it, but we can't afford to have posts turn the ball over. They don't touch the ball enough."

For the second straight game, Stringer played all 10 players from the Knights' bench, and it paid dividends.

Rutgers scored 31 points off of the bench against the Cougars, with 22 of those points coming in the first half.

But it was all a matter of finding the right combination to click on the court, Stringer said.

"With the group that I did put in we started clicking more," she said. "They were better than other groups. [Team play] wasn't true at the beginning."

The student section in the RAC did not have the normal scarlet coloring it usually does. It was not empty, but blue.

There were more Kean fans in the student section than Rutgers, and it showed.

Even when the pep band was playing, chanting for the Cougars echoed throughout the complex.

The intensity disappeared quickly after Rutgers took a commanding lead at the end of the first half.


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