Quiet RU offense takes half to adjust
For the fans of both squads who came out to the Louis Brown Athletic Center expecting their teams to shoot the lights out, they did not get their money's worth in the first half.
Both the Rutgers women's basketball team and Central Connecticut State were as cold as the December afternoon yesterday, with each team shooting under 40 percent in the first half.
The Blue Devils came away empty on their first seven possessions of the game –– a stretch that included four missed shots and three turnovers –– eventually finishing 0-for-7 from beyond the arc in the period.
While the Blue Devils had their struggles, the Scarlet Knights' offense also displayed a minor case of anemia, as Coach C. Vivian Stringer's squad built a 14-point advantage heading into the locker room despite poor shooting from its opponent.
If not for sophomore guard Nikki Speed, who led the Knights in the first half with 10 points off 3-for-7 shooting, and sophomore guard Erica Wheeler, who scored seven points, the Knights may have flashed back to their narrow victory last season over the Blue Devils.
The Knights heated up in the second half to the delight of the Rutgers faithful, and thanks to a 16-for-24 showing in the period, the team finished the game shooting 52 percent.
Central Connecticut State does not provide the same level of competition as Temple, but after a cry for an improved defensive effort from her team, Stringer watched as her squad put the pressure on the Blue Devils all afternoon.
The Knights came away with seven steals in the contest and pressured the Blue Devils into 16 turnovers in the game.
"The way a Scarlet Knight plays, it starts with defense first," Stringer said. "We do know that defense wins championships. We might shoot 38 percent, we might score 52 points, but we won more often than not because of that."
Stringer's defense held the opposition to just 32 points for the game, marking the fewest points allowed since Feb. 11, 2009, when the Knights allowed just 25 points to Farmingdale State.
The Knights watched Temple light it up from beyond the arc their last time out, but saw a complete reversal of fortune yesterday from a 3-point range against their opponent.
Central Connecticut State shot a combined 2-for-27 from 3-point land, a far cry from Temple's 10-for-24 shooting clip — the most 3-pointers scored against the Knights this season.
"All of us guards, coach Stringer talked about Temple the entire time this week for making the most threes anybody has made on us this year," Speed said. "I think everyone had a chip on their shoulder. We're not trying to make threes on us and drive past us — we know we have help, so it's trusting each other as well."
The Northeast Conference once again took its lumps from a Rutgers squad, as the Knights improved to 2-0 against the Blue Devils and 20-0 overall against members of the conference. Atop the list is in-state rival Monmouth, which Rutgers is a perfect 6-0 against all-time.