Rutgers advances to first-ever WNIT championship game
For the first time is program history, the Rutgers women’s basketball team is on the cusp of a WNIT Championship.
A tightly contested match much of the way, the Scarlet Knights pulled away late from South Florida to seize a 62-52 win in the semifinals last night in Tampa.
The Knights will play at UTEP on Saturday afternoon in El Paso, Texas, to decide the champion of the 64-team tournament.
Rutgers (27-9) produced its most offensively efficient outing of the tournament, shooting 49 percent from the field. Four players reached double figures.
Freshman guard Tyler Scaife finished with a team-high 22 points, while sophomore guard Briyona Canty contributed a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Defensively the Knights held USF (23-14) to 31.2 percent shooting from the field, including just 5-of-20 from long range. Rutgers also won the battle on the glass with a 44-35 rebounding advantage.
Following several first-half lead changes, the Knights brought a 30-28 lead into halftime and did not trail again.
After the Bulls hit a 3-pointer to cut their deficit to 40-39 with 10:24 remaining, Rutgers went on a 12-5 run to retain control of the game.
USF guard Courtney Williams converted a layup with 2:48 left to make it 53-51, Rutgers, before the Knights clamped down defensively and held the Bulls to just one point the rest of the way.
Junior wing Betnijah Laney gave Rutgers its first lead at 8-6 on a fast break layup with 16:16 left in the first half. Four more lead changes and several tie scores ensued before the Knights seized control in the second half.
Rutgers’ victory comes after a 1-1 season split with the Bulls.
The Knights’ loss came in Rutgers’ regular-season finale March 3 at the Louis Brown Athletic Center, which dropped the Knights to fourth in the AAC and was a factor in their exclusion from the NCAA Tournament.
For updates on the Rutgers women’s basketball team, follow Greg Johnson on Twitter @GregJohnsonRU. For general Rutgers sports updates, follow @TargumSports.
Comments powered by Disqus
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Targum.