Rutgers leads Bucknell from start to finish for second win

<p>Junior forward Kandiss Barber lays in 2 of her career-high 17 points that led Rutgers in a 57-53 win over Bucknell at the Rutgers Athletic Center Saturday afternoon.</p>

Junior forward Kandiss Barber lays in 2 of her career-high 17 points that led Rutgers in a 57-53 win over Bucknell at the Rutgers Athletic Center Saturday afternoon.

This was not the same team that showed up against Duke on Thursday night. 

The Rutgers Women’s basketball team fought hard and held on for dear life, defeating Bucknell 57-53 at the Rutgers Athletic Center on Saturday afternoon

The Scarlet Knights (2-6) came storming out of the gates against the Bison (5-3), jumping out to a quick 7-0 lead. They hit two of their first 3-point shots and wreaking havoc on the defensive end of the floor. 

At the end of the first quarter, junior guard Shrita Parker grabbed a defensive rebound and passed it to junior forward Kandiss Barber, who made a very tough layup in transition that went through right as the buzzer sounded to give her team a 23-8 lead after one.

Following their blowout loss to Blue Devils, head coach C. Vivian Stringer spoke of how the team need to focus on winning quarters. 

They certainly did that in the first 10 minutes of the game.

They were able to continue their strong start into the second quarter. True freshman center Jordan Wallace came into the game with Desiree Keeling and Victoria Harris in foul trouble. She hit two difficult layups and Rutgers didn’t miss a beat with their third string center in the game.

One of the biggest advantages Rutgers had was on its offensive boards, as it held a 14-8 lead over Bucknell. They also played tenacious defense in the first half, and proved they weren’t the same team that showed up at the RAC two days previous.

“(Bucknell) are known as outstanding offensive rebounding people,” Stringer said. “We played defense well, the way that we should’ve played it a couple days ago.”

Another true freshman preformed well for the Knights in the second quarter, as guard Kate Hill crossed up a Bison defender, stepped back as her defender hit the floor and drained a three pointer with 10 seconds left in the half to put Rutgers up 41-21. 

“I think that the offense that we were running is a continuity offense that allows us to go right into things and it has a lot of reads,” Stringer said. “It allowed everybody to stay in the flow and feel comfortable touching the ball and when most people touch the ball in an offense it’s not jerked and its smooth.”

Leading the charge on offense was junior wing Kandiss Barber. She set a new career high with 17 points and found her stroke consistently hitting mid-range jumpers. 

A junior college transfer from College of Southern Idaho, Barber has had to get used to playing at a higher level and is adjusting well.

“Growth. Continuing to grow. Continuing to listen and practice hard,” she said. “And continuing to be as a team with everyone.”

Despite Barber’s strong offensive showing, the Knights allowed Bucknell to come back in the second half. 

They shrunk the Rutgers lead from 20 points to 9 points in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, they were able to come within just 2 points after being down 20. 

Barber was then able to drive and draw a foul, and made both free throws. Bucknell raced down the court and got a quick layup and had to foul. Parker stepped up to the line and made both of her free throws to seal the game, as Bucknell couldn’t get a shot to fall and time ran out.

As the most experienced player on the team and their starting point guard, Parker knew she had to be a leader at the end of the game when things got dicey. 

Her message to the team?

“Everybody calm down we don’t have to get anxious,” she said after game. “As a point guard (its) my job to let the team know that everything’s gonna be alright. Lets just not turn the ball over and lets continue doing what the coaches want us to do.”

For updates on the Rutgers women's basketball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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