Rutgers handles Michigan State for 10th straight win

Over winter break, the Rutgers women’s basketball team has dominated the court with some momentous wins. One of the No. 20 Scarlet Knights' (15-3) most incredible wins was over No. 4 Maryland (16-2), where the final score was a staggering 73-65. 

Rutgers kept up its impressive performance against Michigan State (13-5). The Knights defeated the No. 17 Spartans 76-62 at the RAC last Sunday.

Some of the most notable highlights from this game stems from fifth-year senior forward Stasha Carey with a new career high of 30 points against Michigan State. She ended the game with a team-best .800 field goal percentage. Carey was also 6-8 from the free throw line.

Carey had six rebounds, which was the second most on the team. Sophomore guard Arella Guirantes and senior center Victoria Harris lead the team with seven rebounds.

“We knew that (the Spartans) were out-rebounding every other team that they were playing,” Guirantes said. “(Head coach C. Vivian Stringer) just kept emphasizing it in practice. We struggled with that in the past two games, so we just came out with a mindset to rebound, get stops and make plays. We just played a well-put game, all of us.”

Harris also contributed 6 points to the board and finished with a .600 field goal percentage. She led the team with three blocks, which was more than Michigan State's total number of blocks.

Guirantes followed behind Carey with 19 points. She also had a successful game on the line, making 6 of 6 free throws. In the team's previous game against Purdue, Guirantes led the team with 17 points.

Rutgers tends to outperform the opposing team in free throws by only missing a few per game. Free throws can make or break a team when it comes to winning a game, and the Knights use this to their advantage. This could be part of the reason the team has been performing so well this season.

Some of the more consistently strong players like senior forward Caitlin Jenkins and graduate student guard Charise Wilson didn't put their stamp on this game, but there's still plenty of time for them to conquer the court in upcoming Big Ten games.

While Rutgers has much success in field goals, 3-pointers are something that the team has struggled with. The Spartans ended the night with a 43.8 percent 3-point percentage, as opposed to the Knights' 28.6 percentage from behind the arc.

The difference in 3-point percentages didn't seem to phase Rutgers, as the Knights bolstered an 18-point lead in the third quarter. Michigan State was struggling in the second half, as it attempted to reclaim a lead it lost in the first quarter.

“We keep the mindset to always stay focused,” Carey said. “We had them down and we wanted to keep them down.”

In the fourth quarter, the Spartans were able to score 23 points to give Rutgers a final run for the win, but the Knights wouldn’t give up their lead. Overall, Michigan State had 10 steals compared to the seven steals by Rutgers.

Junior guard Ciani Cryor contributed 2 of 7 steals. Graduate student guard Sierra Calhoun also had a steal in the game. Calhoun made all four of her free throws and finished with 7 points.

With every game just as important as the one before, the Knights are heading into these coming games with less focus on their ranking and more focus on their practice. Rutgers' next game is Jan. 23 at Iowa City, Iowa, where it will take on another close-ranked Big Ten competitor.

“Always one game at a time,” Carey said. “We don’t ever want to get ahead of ourselves. We know that anybody is capable of beating anybody any day. We’re not really focused on rankings right now. We want to be able to finish out the season strong.”

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

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