Seton Hall hands Rutgers double-digit loss in 77-49 rout
SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. — After shooting the lights out in Philadelphia in the season opener, the Rutgers women’s basketball team regressed dramatically in game two at Seton Hall. The Pirates outscored, outworked and outrebounded the Scarlet Knights (1-1) in a 77-49 walkover win at Walsh Gymnasium on Monday night.
Seton Hall (2-0) received a heavy dose of production from forward Tiffany Jones. She took over early, scoring 15 first half points on her way to a game-high 20, shooting 60 percent from the floor and 4-of-7 from 3-point range.
Rutgers was unable to find any remnants of a shooting rhythm, as top-scorer Kahleah Copper was forced off the floor for most of the first half following two early fouls.
After trailing for the majority of the first half, the Knights came alive when Copper registered her first points of the game on a layup with 5:16 left in the second quarter, spurring a 14-2 Rutgers run to close the gap to four points at the break, 32-28.
But Seton Hall came out firing in the third, propelling the Pirates to the blowout win in a nearly non-competitive second half for the Knights.
“We had no business going down as we did in the first place,” said head coach C. Vivian Stringer. “So it wasn’t so great that we came back as much as it is, ‘How in the heck did you get in this spot, period?’ Because the great competitors and the great players that play at the next level don’t get caught in that spot.”
Foul trouble was a theme throughout the starting lineup for Rutgers.
Junior guard Tyler Scaife and senior center Rachel Hollivay finished with four personals each, which hampered the Knights' offense in the second half as the pair spent crucial minutes on the sidelines when their team needed them out on the court.
Hollivay had one of the top performances on the team from the Banks, scoring 13 points on 6-of-8 from the floor while registering a team-high eight rebounds, nearly a third of the total boards (26) tallied by her team. In contrast, SHU pulled down 39 rebounds.
“I think we were just playing too aggressive,” Hollivay said. “We just gotta rebound better. Naj (Betnijah Laney) was a key factor for us (last season) being the leading rebounder for each game. I’m just trying to stick it in my head, every single game, that I have to go for the rebounds no matter who’s on me, who’s blocking me out. I have to go for every rebound.”
Seton Hall hovered around a 10-point lead for most of the game before it all turned in the third quarter. After Copper sunk two free throws to close the gap to 46-34, the squad from South Orange got hot, riding a 31-15 run to close out the game.
Jones made the difference.
Her game-high point total was just the beginning. She also dominated on the glass, pulling down 13 boards and blocking two shots to keep the Hall undefeated heading into its next matchup with another in-state rival, No. 25 Princeton, on Thursday night.
“We just came out and we just knew what we (were) capable of doing and that’s attack the basket and get rebounds,” Jones said.
The senior couldn’t point to anything in particular for her success on the floor, other than the drive to get back to postseason play after Rutgers ended the Pirates' magic carpet ride in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season.
“Just playing my game, just trying to help my team get back to the NCAA Tournament. That’s the big goal,” she said.
Stringer called the loss an embarrassment, saying her team was “weak” and unwilling to fight back against adversity.
“Give credit to (Seton Hall) first of all, they did a great job,” Stringer said from the podium in the bowels of Walsh Gymnasium. “They moved the ball well, they crashed the boards. There was only one person that was present today and that was Rachel (Hollivay). It’s just as simple as that.”
On the flip side, third-year head coach of the home team, Anthony Bozzella, was brimming with pride after his squad’s 28-point victory. He has been credited with turning around the Pirates program, winning a record 28 games last season before Rutgers said, 'No mas,' last March.
Bozzella thought the Pirates performance on the glass far outweighed the almost unconscious shooting from 3-point land where SHU shot 45.8 percent.
His message to his roster was simple — rebounding isn’t that hard.
“I’m gonna tell ya … ‘Girls, you’re gonna have to box out, you’re gonna have to figure it out, you have to read the ball — at the end of the day, rebounding is not harder than determination. So stop getting outrebounded,’” Bozzella said. “And you know, they made a concerted effort on that.”
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