PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Senior wing Dane Miller (Rochester, N.Y.) shot 5-of-9 and 8-of-9 from the free throw line to score 18 points with five assists in helping Rutgers (9-2) to a 68-56 win over Rider Friday afternoon at the RAC. It marked the fifth straight victory for the Scarlet Knights, who enter BIG EAST play having won nine of their past 10 contests.
Sophomore guard Eli Carter (Paterson, N.J.), sophomore forward Kadeem Jack (Queens, N.Y.) and junior power forward Wally Judge (Washington, D.C.) joined Miller in double figures. Carter was a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line to post 15 points, all of which were scored in the second half. Jack tied his career best with 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting. Judge had 10 points with eight rebounds.
The Scarlet Knights, who committed just eight turnovers, limited the Broncs to 30.4 percent (14-46) shooting.
Neither team could find its rhythm in the opening half. With 10 minutes to play before the break, the score was knotted at just 6-6. Five lead changes and two ties occurred in the opening 20 minutes. The Scarlet Knights closed the half with a 5-0 run to take a 24-21 advantage into the locker room at intermission.
RU increased its advantage to seven points (32-25) early in the second half, before Rider stormed back to cut the deficit to a single point on two occasions. Rutgers re-gained control, running its lead to 46-37, but a pesky Broncs squad remained within striking distance.
Holding a slim 52-49 edge with five minutes to play, the Scarlet Knights scored eight consecutive points and never looked back. RU was a perfect 6-of-6 from the charity stripe in the final minute to build a pair of 14 point advantages en route to the victory.
Rider (6-7) forward Daniel Stewart, who was a perfect 14-of-14 from the free throw line, led all scorers with 20 points.
Rutgers returns to the hardwood at No. 7 Syracuse in a 7 p.m. tip-off inside the Carrier Dome on Wednesday (Jan. 2). The game will be televised live in the New York Metropolitan market on MSG.
- The 9-2 start marks the best through 11 games since 2010-11 and the third time in four years that RU has started the season 9-2.
- Rutgers held Rider to .304 shooting from the floor, the lowest mark for an opponent this season and the lowest since Pitt on Jan. 11, 2012.
- The Scarlet Knights turned the ball over just eight times, the third time this season (Sacred Heart, Howard) and second-straight game that RU has posted less than 10 miscues.
- The Scarlet Knights move to 15-1 all-time against Rider, including 13-1 at home.
- Dane Miller scored double-digits for the sixth time this season and 51st of his career with 18 points.
- Miller bested his career high for free throws made and attempted, going 8-for-9 from the line.
- Wally Judge posted double-digits in the first half for the first time in a Scarlet Knights uniform with 10 points. It marked the fifth game this season that Judge has scored 10-plus points.
- Judge paced RU in rebounding for the sixth time this season with eight boards.
- Kadeem Jack posted double-figures for the second time in four games with 12 points.
- Eli Carter (15) has recorded double-figures in each of the last 10 contests.
- Miller has dished out five-plus assists 11 times over his career (five). It marked the first time Miller has posted five-plus assists since Syracuse on Feb. 19, 2012.
- The Scarlet Knights move to 7-1 when three or more players score 10-plus points. When four or more players notch 10-plus, RU rises to 4-0.
- The 24 points scored by RU in the first half marked the lowest scoring output over the first 20 minutes since Nov. 9, 2012 vs. Saint Peter’s (22). It was also the lowest combined scoring effort since the first game of the season.
- Of the 11 players that saw action, eight scored and five posted at least eight points.
- RU rises to 3-1 when holding its opponent to less than 60 points.
- The RU front court combined for 50 points.
RUTGERS INTERIM HEAD COACH DAVID COX POST-GAME QUOTES
Opening Statement: “The first thing that I want to say is that I’m very thankful to have had this opportunity to coach this group of young men. I told them prior to the game, that the greatest gift an adult coaching can receive is the trust of his pupils, of his students, of his players. They have, for whatever reason, given me their trust for the past two weeks. That allowed me to be comfortable and grow into the position as a coach and for them to continue to grow. I’m thankful for the opportunity. With that being said, I’m looking forward to the big guy (Mike Rice) coming back tomorrow so we can continue about this climb that we are trying to make. As we enter BIG EAST play, I feel good that we are 9-2 and we’re ready to go. I think we are ready to compete. In regards to the game today, we didn’t shoot the ball nearly as well as we have the past couple of games. I think that was to be expected. We were shooting it at a very high clip. A couple of things that we focused on going into this game, thinking that there might be a letdown as far as our offense goes, were defending the basketball. We got back to defending – all the basics, closing out, communicating, talking, being in gaps – because this is a team that can make you look really bad with those three guards getting to the basket off the dribble. The second thing was turnovers. We did a good job in both of those areas today. With the letdown offensively, I think we stepped up in those two areas and we were able to come out with a solid victory. There are some things to look back on and improve upon, but there are also some things that bode well for this team, particularly us coming together as a group during this adverse situation.”
On holding the fort during Mike Rice’s absence: “Absolutely, (there’s a sense of holding the fort down). This was a stop gap. We had three games during that period where we had to hold the fort, or hold the rope, which is what I think we did a great job of. Again, I have to give a lot of credit to the rest of the staff – managers included – who stepped up and provided me with a tremendous amount of support and to the players who came together and played for one another. I think they made Rutgers proud with the way that they’ve handled this.”
On players: “I think (the players are looking forward to getting back to normal). They’re excited about BIG EAST play. I think they’re excited for Coach Rice to come back....I think they’re looking forward to it, absolutely. Don’t take anything away from these last two weeks in regards to them and the growth that they’ve made as a team. I’m not talking about the coaches at all. As a group, this team came together.”
RIDER HEAD COACH KEVIN BAGGETT POST-GAME QUOTES
Game thoughts: “Good job by Rutgers, they did a good job against us in the post. I thought that we had the opportunity to win the game, (but we committed) bad turnovers at the wrong time. I thought our guys played well and battled. We had chances and we just have to go back and clean some things up.”
“We have to give ourselves a chance when we’re making those turnovers; we have to get good shots. There were things that we just have to build on and learn from. I thought that the effort was there and our guys played well. We just have to make some shots. Our guys are going to work on that and they understand that and we will be fine.”
On the technical foul: “I just thought that I saw something that the ref didn’t see and he called the technical on me.”