Rutgers junior wing ascends into history books
It came on a free throw.
At the 8:07 mark of the first half Sunday against Wisconsin, Kahleah Copper sank a free throw to join an exclusive group, becoming the 35th player to join the 1,000-point club in Rutgers women’s basketball program history.
It was a nice compliment for the Scarlet Knights, who bounced back in a strong way on the road against the Badgers Sunday.
For Copper, it was an exciting night fulfilling one of her longtime goals as a collegiate basketball player.
“It felt good to reach the mark. It has been one of my goals since coming here to score this many points,” Copper said.
As a player with a multitude of talents, Copper is relied on by the Knights the most for her ability to score.
After leading the team with 16.1 points per game last season, the junior wing is currently third on the team averaging 14.9 points per game and shooting at an effective .448 percent from the field this season.
Her consistency is one factor that has allowed her to reach this milestone. Copper has only played three games this season where she has not reached double figures in scoring and has gone over the 20-point mark in four contests already this year.
Apart from her tremendous work ethic, Copper credited the coaching staff as a main reason she joined the 1,000-point club.
“I think my coaches have done a great job of letting me know the things I needed to work on and what I had to get better at,” Copper said. “I think I’ve done a great job working on those small things I needed to improve on.”
Despite currently sitting at 14th in scoring in the Big Ten, one of the more surprising elements of Copper’s game is her non-existent perimeter game.
In fact, she has not attempted a single 3-point shot this season.
This is due to her tendency to drive the ball and get to the free throw line, which makes up for her lack of shooting from deep.
Copper currently leads the team in made free throws this season with 61, a testament to her aggressiveness with the ball to attack the rim for high-percentage shots.
Even with her scoring prowess, Copper’s importance as an all-around player for the Knights has not gone unnoticed by her teammates.
“She does a great job of using her athleticism,” said senior forward Betnijah Laney. “She can score in any way you need her to, she defends — anything and everything that we need her to do she does it. She’s just a great asset to us.”
Laney, who reached the 1,000-point mark earlier this season on Dec. 4 against North Carolina, knows the feeling.
“It is a great achievement for any player, especially Kahleah,” Laney said. “Being part of that group is an exciting feeling.”
Rutgers will continue to look for Copper when the team is in need of a basket at crucial situations in every game. Her importance to the offense and team is critical, and joining the 1,000-point club is just one example of that.
“She is our backbone,” said senior guard Briyona Canty. “Without her, it would be hard to execute a lot of plays and get out in transition. She sets the tone, and you have to get involved early. I think she’s an incredible player. I’ve been playing with her since our AAU days, and even watching her back then I was just happy to have her beside me.”
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