HARTFORD, Conn. (March 3, 2012) – No. 23/19 Rutgers women’s basketball used an 18-point and nine rebound second half from junior forward Monique Oliver (Las Vegas, Nev.) to defeat No. 14 seed Marquette, 52-43 in the second round of the BIG EAST Tournament on Saturday night inside the XL Center. Oliver finished with a season-high 23 points, while adding 11 rebounds and four blocks for her sixth double-double of the season.
Rutgers (22-8, 10-6 BIG EAST) advances to the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Championship for the 16th consecutive season. RU will take on No. 3 seed and fourth-ranked Connecticut on Sunday at 8 p.m. The game can be seen live on ESPNU.
Both teams came out of the opening tip slow, with RU scoring the first bucket of the game on a layup from junior guard Erica Wheeler (Miami, Fla.) at the 17:24 mark. The Scarlet Knights jumped out in front 11-6 behind two layups from Oliver, a trey from senior guard April Sykes (Starkville, Miss.) and a pair of free throws from senior guard Nikki Speed (Pasadena, Calif.). However, the Golden Eagles used a 14-2 run to pull ahead, 20-13, with seven minutes remaining in the half.
Rutgers shot 23.1 percent (6-for-26) from the floor in the opening period, scoring its lowest first-half point total of the season, allowing Marquette to take a 22-16 advantage into the break.
RU scored the first two buckets of the second half, a layup each from Oliver and senior Khadijah Rushdan (Wilmington, Del.), to bring Rutgers within two, 22-20, but MU responded to regain its six-point lead.
An old-fashioned three-point play by Sykes at the 11:37 mark eliminated RU’s deficit, tying the game (28-28) for the first time since 15:51 of the first period when the two teams were locked at two apiece. A layup from Rushdan and a free throw from Oliver gave the Scarlet Knights its first lead of the second half.
RU relinquished its lead just once more, following a pair of miscues under its own basket, but Rushdan responded with a jumper followed by another three-point play from Sykes to help Rutgers regain momentum (40-36).
The Golden Eagles hung around, coming back within one, 44-43, with 3:13 to play, but Oliver knocked down three of her 11 free throws on the night to extend the lead back to four and the Scarlet Knights defense held MU scoreless the rest of the way – ending the game on a 8-0 run.
RU bounced the Golden Eagles (13-17, 4-12 BIG EAST) from the tournament for the second-straight season and remain undefeated against MU.
Rushdan finished the night with nine points, a career-high 12 points, three assists and three steals, while Sykes chipped in 11 points and seven rebounds.
Marquette was led by Katherine Plouffe’s 15 points and nine rebounds. Chelsie Butler added 12 points off the bench for the Golden Eagles.
- RU remains undefeated against Marquette with a 10-0 record, dating back to the first meeting in 2006. Rutgers eliminates the Golden Eagles from the conference tournament for the second-straight year
- Rutgers was held to its lowest first-half point total of the season, scoring 16 in the opening 20 minutes of action. Its previous low of 17 came against Georgetown. The last time RU was held to 16 first half points in the BIG EAST Tournament was against West Virginia (18-16 at the half) in the 2006. The Mountaineers went on to defeat the Scarlet Knights 56-40 in the semifinal matchup
- RU has won five-straight and advances to the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST Tournament for the 16th-straight season (since it joined the BIG EAST in 1996)
- Rutgers, who outscored Marquette 42-22 in the paint last week, owned just a plus-four margin in points in the paint tonight
- Monique Oliver picked up her team-leading sixth double-double of the season with 23 points and 11 rebounds. It marked her first double-double in BIG EAST Tournament action
- Monique Oliver recorded her second-straight double-digit scoring game, 21st of the season and the 44th of her career. She scored 20-plus points for the third time this season, matching her total from last year. Her team-high 23 points was a career-high for the BIG EAST Tournament, her previous high of 18 came against Marquette in the quarterfinals last season. It also matched her season-high which she has scored three times in the 2011-12 campaign
- Monique Oliver finished the night 11-16 from the line, both season-highs for the junior. She recorded four blocks for the second-straight game
- April Sykes hit double-digit points for the fifth time in the past six games, ending the night with 11 points. She exceeded the 10-point mark for the team-leading 22nd time this season and the 54th time in her career
- Khadijah Rushdan pulled down a team-high and career-high 12 rebounds, her third double-digit rebounding game of the season. The senior ended the night with nine points to put herself in a tie for 19th with Essence Carson (2004-08) on RU’s all-time scoring list with 1,262 points
- Khadijah Rushdan played in her 133rd game as a member of the Scarlet Knights, putting her in a tie for second on RU’s all-time list in career games played
Follow Rutgers Athletics on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RutgersAthletics) and Twitter (@RUAthletics) for all of the latest news and updates. Fans can receive timely information, including special offers and giveaways throughout the year on both social media outlets along with www.ScarletKnights.com.