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Eatman wins 2nd straight game as Rutgers acting head coach

The Rutgers women’s basketball team came out with a win on Thursday after a tough game against Minnesota, who previously defeated the Scarlet Knights (20-8, 12-5). The game came down to the final quarter, where Rutgers was able to come back from a 4-point deficit in the third quarter to win by 6 points.

Before the game, the Knights paid tribute to the women’s basketball graduating class, which includes seniors guard Sierra Calhoun, forward Stasha Carey, center Victoria Harris and guard Charise Wilson. 

Most notably, sophomore guard Arella Guirantes conquered the court with a .588 field goal percentage. Guirantes posted a career-high 25 points, making this game the third time she scored more than 20 points in a single game. She was also able to rack up three steals and made each of her five free throws, which led the team.

After a tough game against Wisconsin, where Guirantes only made 6 of her 16 attempted shots, this game was a redemption to say the least.

“We’re always gonna get something out of it,” Guirantes said. “Whether it is a steal or a turnover, or they just start their offense with 15 seconds left on the shot clock. Our defense just really turned into our offense. That was pretty much the difference in the game.”

But, this game showed a weakness in Rutgers. In the first half, only 1 of an attempted 9 3-pointers were made. In the second half, the Knights made 1 of 6 attempts for a .133 3-point percentage, compared to the Golden Gophers' (19-9, 8-9) .467 3-point percentage.

On a higher note, Carey was able to stay consistent with 13 points of her own. Carey also led Rutgers in rebounds, grabbing 11, while Guirantes followed with five. This was Carey’s third double-double of the season and 20th career double-double.

While the first three quarters left the Knights in a losing position, the final quarter was back-and-forth between the teams with several ties and finally a lead change, when Rutgers took over by 8 points. Their lead would then fall back to 6 points in the final seconds. 

“Never take anything for granted,” said acting head coach Tim Eatman. “When you start trying to take things for granted, you let up on the motor. We gotta keep our motor going. Basketball is all about that momentum.”

While sophomore forward Tekia Mack had a dominating game against the Badgers (13-15, 4-12) where she tacked on 17 points and seven rebounds, she had a quiet game against Minnesota. Mack did not have any points on the board and had only one rebound.

Calhoun also had a slow game when compared to her previous games. She was not able to make any field goals or 3-pointers, but she was 6 of 6 from the free throw line. 

Both Calhoun and Wilson had low shooting percentages. Wilson made 2 of her attempted 7 shots, but squeezed in four rebounds and two steals.

With only one game left in the regular season, the Knights have to make this an important turn-around from their previous games. After a recent loss against Minnesota earlier this week, Rutgers was able to come back with a win. It will face Ohio State for the second time this season on Sunday against the Buckeyes (13-12, 9-7), and it will be looking for their final win in a redemption game.

Going into the Big Ten Tournament, the Knights will be the No. 3 seed. The tournament will be held in Indianapolis at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse. This is the highest seed for Rutgers since joining the conference in 2014.

“We’ve been down before and that’s not a secret,” Carey said. “We basically talked about it in the huddle, telling each other we’ve been here before. We’ve made major comebacks and we just kept our composure. Our shots start falling, our layups start falling, so that’s what got us going.”

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

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