Fouls, lack of accuracy from floor doom Rutgers
Foul trouble plagued the Rutgers women’s basketball team against St. John’s.
They never seemed to be able to put a consistent run together without being whistled for a foul that would halt their momentum.
It was especially a problem in the paint, with key interior players being in foul trouble for most of the game.
Senior center Ariel Butts had three fouls at halftime and four at the end of the third quarter.
She started along with fellow center Rachel Hollivay in a big lineup for the Scarlet Knights.
But Hollivay also had three fouls heading into the fourth quarter, and St. John’s junior forward Jade Walker was able to take advantage, driving into the paint at will and finishing with a team-high 20 points.
The Knights were forced to play a bit more laid back in their defense so they would not commit extra fouls that could land them out of the game and the Red Storm feasted.
“They are a very good team and they have very good athletes, and we did not stop or control them,” said head coach C. Vivian Stringer. “They went three times coast-to-coast … who does that? They dribbled the ball well and used head and shoulder fakes, and we looked like elephants trying to catch a butterfly … We’re better than that.”
Junior guard Tyler Scaife picked up her fourth foul on a charge while trying to save the ball in the first minute of the final period.
As a team, the Scarlet Knights finished with 20 fouls compared to 14 for the Red Storm.
Scaife led the Knights in scoring with 23 points, but was called for a couple of charges which drew roars from the bench and crowd of 2,226.
Rutgers still felt after the game that they were responsible for allowing easy baskets for the Red Storm and that the fouls were not a major issue.
“We didn’t control the ball and anytime you allow the ball to get into the paint, then it causes the big people to step up and leads to easy dishes and easy shots,” Stringer said. “It’s as simple as that.”
Sometimes, the shots just don’t seem to fall.
That was certainly the case for the Knights in their loss against St. John’s.
The Knights shot just 9-32 from the field in the first half, leaving them with a 28.1 percent clip going into the break.
Things didn’t get much better in the third quarter, as the Knights finished that period with a 6-16 mark from the field.
For the game, the Knights finished shooting 37.7 percent and 23-61 from the field.
They know they will have to improve that clip that is befuddling them to reverse the two-game slide they are currently experiencing after losses to Seton Hall and St. John’s.
“We had chances to get warmed up but we weren’t in sync, so I offer no excuse,” Stringer said. “If we’re gonna be better, we have to do a lot better and it starts on the defensive side and rebounding side. Then we can push the ball down the floor. We got started late right from the beginning because the ball was not flowing … We were playing like we were scared instead of trusting that we can make the next pass and let it flow.”
Scaife was the most efficient scorer on the night for Rutgers, as nine of her 23 points came from the free throw line, where she converted all nine attempts.
Her fast breaks gave the Knights quick spurts of scoring, which they have been accustomed to seeing from her over during her three years on the Banks.
She knew going into the game that she could help the team by driving in the lane and drawing fouls, and was able to do that to keep the Knights in the game as much as she could.
“(Getting to the line) was one of my goals,” Scaife said. “I played well the last game but felt more of a sense of urgency to get to the free throw line this game.”
One of the Knights getting good looks from the field was senior guard Briyona Canty.
Though she finished just 5-for-15 from the field and ended with 10 points, she was finding good spacing on the court and took shots that generally should lead to a high percentage of conversions.
She entered the game with only 9 points scored in the first two games combined, so her aggressiveness in this game should serve the Knights well moving forward.
“Bri needs to do that. She’s a stronger body as a guard and is capable of shooting the ball well,” Stringer said. “She had open looks. I want her to finish it much better when it comes to taking it to the hole.”
Senior wing Kahleah Copper scored 11 points for the Knights but also struggled from the field, finishing 4-for-13 in the game.
Though she had some trouble with her shots, she was still active defensively and in motivating her teammates.
She also finished with six rebounds and created fast break opportunities for Scaife and other teammates.
She knows that if she is off her shooting game, there are other ways she can help the Knights.
“I can rebound and get put-backs and play defense," Copper said. "So I just need to focus on doing something outside of just trying to look to score.”
Stringer felt the Knights could have given Copper the ball more in this game.
She felt they settled too often for jumpers, but liked when Canty and Copper were able to drive into the lane for some scores.
For the Knights’ sake, it could help reverse their scoring woes over the past two contests to find Copper more often when she is in transition.
“Anytime we bring the ball down the floor when Kahleah is on the baseline, we have to find her because she’s the only one that can attack the rim as she does,” Stringer said. “I don’t know why we were avoiding her and making a pass to the other side of the floor and taking jump shots … We’re going to learn.”
For updates on the Rutgers women’s basketball team, follow @Mike_OSully2 and @TargumSports on Twitter.
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