Hamady Ndiaye had 19 points and nine blocks.
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Mike Rosario (Jersey City, N.J.) shot 13-of-22 to score a career-high 33 points and Hamady Ndiaye (Dakar, Senegal) posted 19 points and nine blocks to lead Rutgers (11-11, 2-8) to a convincing 84-72 win over St. John’s (12-9, 2-7) Tuesday evening at the RAC. The Scarlet Knights shot 56.4 percent (31-55) and out-rebounded the Red Storm by a 38-28 margin to earn their second consecutive BIG EAST Conference victory.
“We were going through a very tough stretch, but two of the things I’m most proud is that (the players) never stopped believing and they never stopped working,” said head coach Fred Hill. “I think that the last two games they have been rewarded for that.”
Rosario scored 21 points in the first half and was 3-of-5 from behind the arc in 39 minutes of action. His scoring output marked the most for an RU player since Quincy Douby posted 36 in an 82-70 win at St. John’s on March 5, 2006.
Ndiaye shot 7-of-10 from the field, 5-of-6 from the free throw line, and grabbed a game high-tying nine rebounds while logging 38 minutes for a second consecutive contest. His nine rejections marked the most for an RU player in a BIG EAST contest.
Junior forward Jonathan Mitchell (Mount Vernon, N.Y.) and junior point guard James Beatty (Wilmington, N.C.) also played key roles in the victory. Mitchell made 5-of-10 field goals, including 4-of-6 from three, to score 18 points. Beatty dished-out a career-high eight assists as the Scarlet Knights accumulated 18 helpers on the evening.
St. John’s posted the contest’s first points via the three-ball, before the home squad responded with a 7-0 run. After the Red Storm tied the score at 7-7, Rutgers took the lead on a Rosario jumper and would never again relinquish the advantage. The Scarlet Knights built their lead to as many as 15 points before taking an 11 point, 40-29, advantage into the locker room at the midpoint.
After the break, Rutgers maintained a double-digit advantage for most of the second half, before a 5-0 Red Storm run reduced the lead to 60-54 with 7:09 remaining. The Scarlet Knights responded with a 7-1 spurt, courtesy of five points from Mitchell, to extinguish any hopes of a St. John’s comeback.
Rutgers returns to the hardwood Saturday afternoon in a 4:00 p.m. tip-off at Louisville. The game will be televised live on SNY.
· The 84-72 win is the largest margin of victory in a BIG EAST game for RU since defeating DePaul 75-56 on Jan. 31, 2009.
· Rutgers’ 84 points is the most the squad has scored in conference game since defeating Marquette 91-84 on Feb. 12, 2006.
· With last Saturday’s 74-73 win against Notre Dame and tonight’s 84-72 win versus St. John’s, it marks the first time Rutgers captured back-to-back BIG EAST wins since the 2007-08 season when Rutgers knocked off No. 18 Villanova, 80-68, on Jan. 26 followed by winning at No. 13 Pittsburgh, 77-64, on Jan. 30.
· Rutgers’ .564 shooting percentage for the game is the highest since hitting .583 against NJIT on Dec. 23, 2008. Tonight’s shooting percentage is the highest for RU in a BIG EAST game since the squad sank .617 of their shots at DePaul on Jan. 19, 2008 in a 75-73 loss.
· Ndiaye’s nine blocks is the most ever by a Scarlet Knight in a BIG EAST game. The senior owns 15 games with six or more blocks and 54 contests with three-plus blocks.
· Ndiaye’s nine rejections pushes his season total to 106 which makes him the third Scarlet Knight ever to swat 100-plus blocks in a season. Ndiaye’s 108 blocks season moves him past former Scarlet Knight Herve Lamizana (102, 2003-04) on the school’s single season all-time list.
· Rutgers’ 31 field goals is the most Rutgers has drained in a BIG EAST game since the squad hit the same amount in a 75-56 win against DePaul on Jan. 31, 2009.
· The 40-29 halftime lead is the biggest advantage at intermission of a BIG EAST game for the Scarlet Knights since leading USF 30-15 RAC on Feb. 26, 2006.
· Rosario’s game-high 33 points is a career high and marks the most by a Scarlet Knights since Quincy Douby scored 36 at St. John’s on March 5, 2006. Rosario’s previous career-best was 28 against St. Peter’s on Dec. 22, 2009.
· Rosario’s game-high 33 points marks the 17th game in his career he has scored 20-plus points and the 47th time he has scored in double digits. The BIG EAST Honor Selection has led the Scarlet Knights in scoring in 33 of his 54 games at Rutgers.
· James Beatty’s eight assists is a career high.
· At least three Scarlet Knights scored in double digits for the eighth straight game and the 17th time this season with Rosario (33) Ndiaye (19) and Jonathan Mitchell (18) all scoring 10 or more points
· Ndiaye’s 19 points marks the16th time in his career and 12th time this season he has tallied 10 or more points.
· Mitchell’s 18 points gives him 13 double-digit scoring efforts for the season and 16 for his career. It marks the fifth straight game he has tallied 10-plus points. The redshirt junior has scored in double digits in eight of the team’s 10 conference games.
· RU started Rosario, Ndiaye, Beatty, Dane Miller and Mitchell for the eighth-straight game. Only Mitchell has started all 22 games this season.
· The RU win snapped a three-game losing streak against St. John’s. The Scarlet Knights now owns a 12-23 all-time record against the Red Storm.
RUTGERS HEAD COACH FRED HILL
On maturity of the team:
“We have been working extremely hard. We talked about that. We were going through a very tough stretch, but two of the things I’m most proud of is that they have never stopped believing and they have never stopped working. I think that the last two games they have been rewarded for that. I thought we played extremely well except for maybe a ten-minute stretch in the second half. We couldn’t find anyone to stop D.J. Kennedy and they made their run. But when (St. John’s) made their run and cut it to six, what I’m most proud of is the way they answered and came right back. They executed and scored. They were solid on the defensive end. We switched into a 2-3 zone because we couldn’t stop them and it was extremely effective. They did a great job in the zone, rebounding out of it. It was a time that, I thought that because we couldn’t stop them, we couldn’t run. I think you see that we are a much better team in transition. That has been one of our problems – we haven’t been able to rebound the basketball. This is the second game in a row that we have been able to out-rebound our opponent. That is a big component of us – getting the ball out and running and getting easy baskets.”
On the difference in Mike Rosario:
“One, we are playing better on the defensive end and it’s creating offense. Two, we are rebounding the ball better and it’s creating offense. If you looked at one (time) they scored, we get the ball out of bounds, we throw it into JB (James Beatty). He throws it to Mike (Rosario) streaking up the side line and before they can even turn around, we kick it up and he gets a layup. That gets him going. He has been letting the game come to him. I thought one or two times he tried to force some things. He was feeling it, so I don’t mind that as much. You guys are going to talk about his offense. Last year, Paris Horne lit us up for 27. He is a heck of a player and can really score. I think the key was his defense was outstanding and led to him getting out and getting baskets on the offensive end. It started with our defense. We were able to rebound. I can’t say enough about our guards getting to the glass. They are starting to track down the long ones. St. John’s is an outstanding offensive rebounding team and they are a very good defensive team. For us to shoot 56 percent, 53 percent from three, 73 percent from the line – I think that says a lot about the character of our guys. (They are) able to execute and fight through adversity. I don’t know if I can really express how proud I am of them.”
On Hamady Ndiaye:
“I remember four years ago, everyone called H a project. To see where he has come from – a kid that played basketball starting at 16, came over here from Dakar, Senegal, played in prep school. The prep school he played at, they played a lot of games, but I’m not sure you are taught the finer points of the game. He is starting with a clean slate four years ago as a freshman. I challenge anyone – if they had told us he would be playing like this at this point in his career – that he has been able to do the kind of things he’s doing. Nine blocks in a BIG EAST game, 19 points, nine rebounds. He had the 10th block on a reach in call (at the end of the game), and maybe one more rebound – two little hiccups and he gets a triple-double. I love the kid. He brings unbelievable passion to our team.”
ST. JOHN’S HEAD COACH NORM ROBERTS
“I give Rutgers a lot of credit they made a lot of shots. Mike Rosario played great. We didn’t do a really good job of guarding him. We knew that he was coming off of a good game and we let him get too comfortable. We then got spread out defensively which allowed Dane Miller to get off a couple open looks and allowed Hamady Ndiaye to do work on the inside.”
“We’re disappointed, that’s life when you don’t do what you think you’re capable of doing. Rutgers made some plays and we didn’t make them.”
On making changes within the team:
“We may have to look at changing the line up and the rotation. But no matter what, whom ever we have out there on the floor they’re all capable of doing really good things, we just need to make sure that we do them. We didn’t guard the ball screen right and that hurt us. When we didn’t guard the staggers right they hurt us again. Rutgers made some good passes and finished plays.”
On the one thing tonight that created the most disappointment:
“We didn’t take away their strengths, we knew that Rosario was a guy that was going to jump up and shoot it so we knew that we had to crowd him. We didn’t crowd him enough to make him put it on the floor rather than let him pull up and shot jumpers.”
“When we needed to get stops at the end of the shot clock we didn’t do it. Our guards allowed their guards to get in the lane deep then shoot over the top of us. We have to do a much better job on one on one defense and not letting those plays happen.”