Post game struggles in loss to Red Storm
With senior guard Brittany Ray on the bench for more than 12 minutes in the first half with two fouls, the Rutgers women's basketball team was forced to compensate for offense. The Scarlet Knights looked inside, as 20 of their first 25 points came in the paint.
Throughout the first half, the offense was visibly out-of-sync, relying on pick-and-rolls to find open creases and lanes. The St. John's defense routinely provided help down low, causing offensive fouls and post turnovers.
Sophomore Khadijah Rushdan, RU's most dangerous scorer on the floor without Ray, collapsed the lane looking to convert putbacks and layups to the tune of 10 first half points. Ill-timed inside passes plagued the guard, as she committed four giveaways in the period.
The Knights' frontcourt though, did not experience the same amount of success.
With St. John's playing both man-to-man and a 2-3 zone, sophomore forwards Chelsey Lee and Myia McCurdy were the recipients of many post-up opportunities.
Lee struggled from the field early and turned the ball over, a recurring theme for the Knights throughout the game and season.
"I just needed to finish," Lee said. "I was dwelling on the last play, missing a pass, dropping a pass."
McCurdy, on the other hand, rode her high-percentage shots for three first half field goals. The senior forward was responsible for occupying the middle of the Red Storm zone and took several midrange jump shots.
Senior center Rashidat Junaid was a non-factor, picking up two personal fouls in a span of three minutes, one after receiving a post pass from Rushdan.
Lackluster St. John's free throw shooting aided the Knights in a back-and-forth affair.
The Johnnies came out aggressively, attacking the paint and converting on second-chance opportunities, which led to several trips to the charity stripe.
Although RU operated on defense in the double-bonus for a sizable portion of the first half, the Red Storm converted only 40 percent of their free throws during the time-span, contributing to four lead changes and five occasions with a tie score.
A four-point halftime deficit for the RU could have potentially ballooned to double digits if not for St. John's many missed opportunities at the free throw line.
The Knights, on the other hand, shot only one first-half free throw, which was missed.
The Johnnies finished the contest a mediocre 15-31 from the line, while the Knights made only seven total trips.
"We got seven foul shots, [St. John's] had 31," said head coach C. Vivian Stringer, who was called for a technical foul during the second half. "We're playing bad, just bad."
Red Storm senior guard Kelly McManmon was a terror for the Knights defense in the second half. McManmon – the all-time leader in three-pointers made in St. John's history – scored nine points in the second half, many of which came when RU began to close the scoring gap.
"Kelly McManmon has been unbelievable for us, phenomenal," said St. John's head coach Kim Barnes Arico. "Our kids know when she's in the game that they're looking for her."
Converting on 50 percent of her threes in the second period, McManmon provided a lead that ultimately proved insurmountable.