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Rutgers drops 3rd straight game

The Rutgers women’s basketball team faced Ohio State at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC). This is the third game without senior forward Caitlin Jenkins, as the No. 23 Scarlet Knights (17-7, 9-4) have now lost three straight games after falling to the Buckeyes (11-11, 7-6) 59-39.

In a first quarter where Rutgers only scored 6 points, the Knights shot a 23.5 field goal percentage. The second quarter was a little more uplifting, as senior center Stasha Carey made 3 of her 5 attempted shots. 

Rutgers was able to hold off Ohio State after its slow first quarter, gaining some traction and improving its shooting average to 29.6 percent.

Sophomore guard Tekia Mack was able to push the Knights to shorten the gap toward the end of the second quarter, making 1 of 2 field goals. Once she got on the court, she was able to change the dynamic of the team with the energy she brought.

Mack was able to finish the game with a 60.0 field goal percentage and four rebounds. Fifth-year senior forward Stasha Carey led the evening with 10 total rebounds, followed by sophomore guard Arella Guirantes with 9.

Starting the second half, Rutgers was at a 19-point deficit that would require it to nearly double its current score. Much like the game against Indiana, where the Knights were down by 14, they came back to win with the use of a press, something that was utilized in this game, too.

Rutgers, in the third quarter, was able to surpass the Buckeyes in shooting percentage with 27.3 percent made, while Ohio State left with only 22.2 percent, compared to their first two quarters at 50.0 percent.

As a whole, the Knights were not shooting successfully. After the third quarter, Carey had only a 37.5 shooting percentage. The Buckeyes' defense was stopping Rutgers' shots, which contributed to the lack of points on the board. Ohio State's defense had four blocks to the Knights' two.

“We changed a bunch of positions,” said head coach C. Vivian Stringer. “So we were trying to play a zone which we haven’t played all year because we know that we’ve been picking up fouls real quick, and in zone, it meant that certain people were able to play and certain people weren’t, with each other.”

Heading into the fourth quarter, Rutgers was down by 15, and it continued to look like it was out of sync. Once the Knights had the ball back, it appeared like they lost confidence in their shooting ability, which led to more missed shots. After four tough shooting quarters for Guirantes, she finished the game with a field goal percentage of 11.8.

The fourth quarter was riddled with small errors by Rutgers that built up against the team. From the missed shots to the ball handling mistakes, the Knights weren’t able to bounce back from them or keep up with the Buckeyes' defense.

“It’s mental,” Stringer said. “They’ve gotta do a heck of a whole lot more shooting, because obviously we aren’t doing enough. They’ve gotta do that on their own, and that’s confidence."

Rutgers had a slow night, and ended with a 26.2 field goal percentage versus 45.8 from Ohio State. Some of the more shocking results came from the the Knights' 3-point shooting average. With 9.5 percent from deep, they were only able to make 2 of 21 attempted 3-pointers.

Rutgers lost its second home game in a row, after being undefeated for 11 straight games at home. The Knights still sit at 23rd in the nation as they travel to Bloomington, Indiana to play the previously-defeated Hoosiers (17-8, 6-7). 

“Poor shooting and lack of confidence,” Stringer said. “We were running into the same things that we were running into before. All of the sudden, all of our guards were in a slump. Serious slump. I’ve seen one or two guards in a slump, but when you have all four people that are supposed to be making shots go into a slump, that’s trouble.”

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

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