Rutgers cruises by Saint Francis in season opener

The Rutgers women’s basketball team hosted Saint Francis at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC) for the first game of the season. The Red Flash (1-1) had come into the game with a win already in their pockets, but the Scarlet Knights (1-0) crushed the visitors in the season opener and came out with a 96-52 victory. 

Freshman guard Zipporah Broughton started the game and quickly adjusted to the fast-paced environment of college basketball. She matched up to her opponents well and scored off of the other team’s fouls. With such a successful time playing high school basketball, it is no surprise that she had a fluid debut at the next level. 

Rutgers went 7-8 from the free-throw line in the first quarter, which helped push them away from Saint Francis with ease. The Knights appeared to get their groove after the first quarter where they extended their lead. 

The second quarter started off with a steal and assist by graduate student guard Charise Wilson to Broughton for the points right off the bat and then had another steal in the seventh minute. The second quarter had many back-and-forth possession changes due to a number of fouls by both sides.

Rutgers was able to complete four steals in the second quarter before a long timeout by the Flash. Wilson and Broughton were the main contributors to the steals, leaving Saint Francis to hope for a better third quarter. 

The Knights pushed the lead to 50-24 in the second quarter before halftime. Just watching its first-half production alone, Rutgers looks to be shaping up to have a successful season. 

But, something the Knights needed to clean up before heading into the second half was the ability to communicate. Some Flash players were left wide open when grabbing a rebound, without a Rutgers player in sight. 

Coming back after halftime, the Knights continued to push through the Saint Francis defense. In the game, the Flash only led for 31 seconds at the beginning of the game, but Rutgers took over quickly after that.

After a long-awaited foul call on the Flash, fifth-year senior forward Stasha Carey — who finished the game with 13 points and 11 rebounds — had two opportunities at the free-throw line in less than a minute. The Saint Francis defense started to get sloppy toward the end of the third quarter, but it didn't stop its offense from scoring some points. 

Starting the fourth quarter at 74-41, the Knights pushed further away from the Flash. But, miscommunication was still an issue for Rutgers. 

The defense and offense were able to stop Saint Francis for the most part in this game, but in the upcoming games against Big Ten teams, the Knights will have to be able to come together to push through the challenges they face in each game. 

The fourth quarter was another foul-heavy quarter. Rutgers used this to its advantage by getting in the heads of the other team's players and gaining points off of the fouls by the Flash. Ending the game at 96-52 on a 3-point buzzer beater by freshman guard Noga Peleg Pelc, the Knights gave this game their all and proved they will play with a fight in every single game.

Forward Caitlin Jenkins started off her senior year right with rebounds and a steal to help Rutgers clinch the first win of the season. Multiple blocks were in her favor, as well as her percentage at the free-throw line. 

"I think we have to work on limiting turnovers and in transition, locating shooters ... and communicating are some things we need to work on," Jenkins said after the game.

The Knights will play Stony Brook at the RAC on Friday, Nov. 9 at noon.

“We won, and I wasn’t happy at all,” said head coach C. Vivian Stringer, who now sits two wins away from 1,000. “We have to be better, but we will be better.”

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

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