SCARLET KNIGHTS TO OPEN 2012-13 SEASON AT No. 10/11 GEORGIA
The Rutgers women’s basketball team kicks off the 2012-13 campaign on Sunday, Nov. 11 in Athens, Ga. against the Lady Bulldogs at Stegemen Coliseum at 2:00 p.m.
LAST TIME OUT – Rutgers at Gonzaga – First Round NCAA Tournament – March 17, 2012
Erica Wheeler recorded a career-high 28 points in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at McCarthey Athletic Center, however the No. 24/20 Rutgers women’s basketball team was unable to overcome a shaky first half, falling 86-73 to the 11th seed Gonzaga.
Wheeler connected on six-of-14 from three-point range on the afternoon and added four assists and two steals. Former guard Khadijah Rushdan tallied her seventh career double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds, while forward Monique Oliver added 12 points and six rebounds.
The Scarlet Knights exited the tournament in the first round for the second time in three seasons. Rutgers ended its 2011-12 campaign with a 22-10 overall mark.
Gonzaga took control of the glass early, scoring the opening two buckets on second chance opportunities from its post players. Rutgers struggled to settle in, missing its first seven shots of the contest. Rushdan broke the drought with a pair of free throws to put the Scarlet Knights on the board and RU followed with its first field goal of the game at the 13:52 mark, a layup from Oliver, to bring RU within two, 6-4.
An offensive rebound and put back from forward Christa Evans halted a 14-0 Bulldog run and ended a 4:20 scoring drought for the Scarlet Knights. The basket sparked RU to eight-straight points to bring Rutgers within eight at 20-12 with 8:37 remaining.
RU, who shot 29.0 percent (9-31) in the opening period, continued to struggle on the offensive end, allowing Gonzaga to extend its lead to 38-23 at the half, despite a last second bucket from Wheeler
Rutgers came out of the locker room a different team and immediately began chipping away at the deficit, coming within 11 at 57-46 following a 9-2 run. The Bulldogs’ Haiden Palmer drained a three – one of nine on the afternoon for the Zags – to push the deficit back to 14.
The Scarlet Knights battled back within 10 (69-59) with 3:35 left in regulation, following a pair of free throws from Oliver. Gonzaga maintained its composure, despite Wheeler’s efforts from behind the arc, by going 14-16 from the charity stripe over the final 2:47 minutes to hang on for the victory.
Gonzaga had four players reach double-digit points, led by Standish’s 23 and Palmer’s 21. Taelor Karr chipped in 14 points and Kelly Bowen recorded the team’s only double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
The Rutgers women’s basketball team opens the 2012-13 season with a well-crafted balance of veteran leadership and youthful enthusiasm, welcoming back three starters and boasting a sophomore and freshman class ranked third in the country by ESPN HoopGurlz.
The Scarlet Knights graduated leading scorers Khadijah Rushdan and April Sykes, who were both drafted by the LA Sparks last April. Preseason All-BIG EAST selection, forward Monique Oliver, headlines a deep front court along with fifth-year senior Chelsey Lee, returning from a shoulder injury that kept her sidelined a year ago. Oliver averaged 11.8 points and 7.3 rebounds en route to a BIG EAST Honorable Mention accolade, while Lee poured in 8.5 points and 7.5 boards per contest back in the 2010-11 season.
Fellow senior Erica Wheeler also poured in 8.6 points and racked up a team-leading 52 steals at guard a year ago. In the first round NCAA Tournament game with Gongaza, Wheeler captured a career-best 28 points.
Betnijah Laney, a BIG EAST All-Freshman selection, added in 6.0 points and 3.9 rebounds along with 41 assists and 31 steals as a rookie. Laney also made 11 starts in her first campaign with the Scarlet Knights.
ALL-TIME SERIES VS. GEORGIA
The Rutgers Scarlet Knights and Georgia Lady Bulldogs will be squaring off for the 12th time in history with the Lady Bulldogs holding a 3-8 advantage in the all-time series having won four of the last five meetings. In post-season action, these two teams have met twice which included a 59-51 RU victory in 2000 en-route to the Final Four.
The Lady Bulldogs won the last meeting back on Nov. 22, 2009 with a one-point, 49-48, victory in Athens. Georgia staged a late 10-0 run to overcome a 12-point deficit with 7:15 to play paced by 17 points by former Lady Bulldog Ashley Houts.
The teams both started slowly with the score just 8-8 midway through the first half. A jumper by RU's Monique Oliver with 7:51 on the clock in the first gave Rutgers its largest lead to that point at five, before the Lady Bulldogs went on an 11-0 run to take a 22-16 lead with just over four minutes to go in the first.
The Scarlet Knights trimmed it back to just a one-point Georgia advantage but Mitchell and Houts knocked down three late free throws to put the home team up four heading into the half.
Georgia kept the lead until the 13:55 mark in the second on a three-pointer from April Sykes. Back-to-back buckets from RU’s Chelsey Lee stretched the Scarlet Knights’ lead to seven and Rutgers ultimately posted a 13-0 run to lead by 10, at 40-30, with 8:12 to go.
A lay-up from Oliver put RU up by its largest margin of 12 with just 7:15 to play before Georgia kicked off the late 12-0 run to fuel the comeback.
After a Brittany Ray jumper for Rutgers, the Lady Bulldogs responded with a foul line jumper from freshman Anne Marie Armstrong which cut the Rutgers lead to seven. A short Mitchell jumper and consecutive threes from Jasmine James and Armstrong put Georgia back in front for the first time since the 14:38 mark in the second.
Rutgers missed on its next possession and the teams traded turnovers, giving Georgia the ball back with under a minute to play and guarding the slim one-point edge. Houts had her shot rim out but Georgia kept possession after a Rutgers player stepped on the baseline, and the shot clock was unplugged with the ball in the Lady Bulldogs’ hands.
Houts was then fouled on the ensuing inbounds play and converted on both ends of the one-and-one to make it a three-point Georgia lead, at 49-46, with just nine ticks remaining.
Rutgers’ Myia McCurdy sank a long-range jumper down the other end with three seconds to go but it was ruled a two-pointer and the Lady Bulldogs were able to hold on for the one-point victory.
Rutgers committed 29 turnovers on the afternoon.
The Lady Bulldogs return starters who averaged double digits – Anne Marie Armstrong, Jasmine Hassell, Jasmine James and Khaalidah Miller – and five more letterwinners from last year’s team that finished 22-9 and ranked No. 20. In addition, five freshmen have joined the nine returnees. Jasmine Hassell - 6-2, senior forward - averaged a team-leading 13.0 points and second-best 5.7 rebounds per game. Khaalidah Miller – a 5-9, junior guard - poured in 12.4 points per game along with 4.2 rebounds per contest. Anne Marie Armstrong – a 6-3, senior guard/forward - added in 11.5 points per game and a team-leading 6.2 rebounds per game. Jasmine James – a 5-9, senior guard rounds out the double figure scorers returning with 10.6 points per game along with 4.7 rebounds per game.
Andy Landers, the long-time Georgia head coach, had compiled 877 wins in his career and holds a 795-268 record at Georgia entering his 34th year at the helm of the program. The Lady Bulldogs have been regulars in the NCAA Tournament having made 28 appearances, including the last 18 straight season and having missed the dance only twice - 1992 & 1994.
RUTGERS VS. THE AP TOP-25
Rutgers was 2-5 vs. AP Top-25 teams (0-4 vs. top-10) last season. The Scarlet Knights earned victories over No. 23 DePaul and No. 16 Louisville. Rutgers suffered losses against No. 3 Connecticut, No. 2 Notre Dame, No. 20 Georgetown, No. 6 Tennessee and No. 9 Miami.
On tap this season are seven teams ranked in the preseason AP including No. 2 Connecticut, No. 7 Notre Dame, No. 9 Louisville, No. 10 Georgia, No. 14 St. John’s, No. 20 Tennessee, and No. 25 DePaul along with Georgetown who is receiving votes.
RUTGERS PICKED FIFTH IN PRESEASON BIG EAST POLL
Rutgers was tabbed fifth in the 2012-13 BIG EAST Preseason Coaches’ Poll on Oct. 18th in the conference’s annual media day.
After tying for sixth place with a 10-6 league mark last year and posting a 22-10 overall record last season, the Scarlet Knights were chosen to improve one spot in 2012-13.
Senior Monique Oliver earned a spot on the preseason team after being an All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention selection last season. Oliver, the Scarlet Knights returning leading scorer, averaged 11.8 points and 7.3 rebounds was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll three times during last year’s campaign.
RU BIG EAST Preseason Rankings/Final Finish
2012-13 SCHEDULE: ANOTHER TOUGH TEST
A hallmark of Rutgers basketball is its competitive schedule and this year’s slate features that same philosophy.
Rutgers will open the season with 13 non-conference games, featuring teams from nine different conferences. The BIG EAST Conference schedule is comprised of 16 games as the Scarlet Knights will play each of the 14 conference members in addition to a home and away series against both Cincinnati and St. John’s.
The Scarlet Knights will face 18 of 29 regular-season opponents that advanced to some form of postseason play last season.
Notre Dame: NCAA Runner-Up
Connecticut: NCAA Final Four
Tennessee: NCAA Elite Eight
Georgetown: NCAA Second Round
DePaul: NCAA Second Round
Louisville: NCAA Second Round
Georgia: NCAA First Round
Syracuse: WNIT Semifinals
Villanova: WNIT Third Round
Temple: WNIT Third Round
Cincinnati: WNIT Second Round
Davidson: WNIT First Round
STARTING THE SEASON OFF STRONG
Rutgers opened the 2011-12 campaign on an 8-0 streak – its best start since the 2005-06 campaign. This marks the fifth time in program history that the Scarlet Knights started the season with eight-straight wins and second time under head coach C. Vivian Stringer. (2005-06; 8-0), (1990-91; 13-0), (1986-87; 23-0) and (1983-84; 8-0). RU went 15-2 to start the year for the first time since the 2007-08 season.
GETTING THE STARTING NOD
The Scarlet Knights used 11 different starting lineups last season. Each of Rutgers’ five sophomores earned a start last season led by Betnijah Laney with 11 starts.
OLIVER NEARS 1,000-POINT MARK
Senior center Monique Oliver will be looking to become the 32nd Scarlet Knight to join the 1,000-point club needing just 76 more points to join the list.
OLIVER HOSTING BLOCK PARTY
Senior center Monique Oliver moved into the Rutgers record books for all-time blocked shots last season and is currently in sixth place with 144 rejections. This season, Oliver could become just the fifth Scarlet Knight with 200 career blocks and just the fourth Scarlet Knight with over 1,000 career points and 200 career blocks.
Oliver needs five more blocks to surpass Tammy Sutton-Brown (1997-01) for fifth place all-time in the Rutgers record books.
LEE CHECKS BACK IN
Chelsey Lee returns as a fifth-year senior after missing the 2011-12 season following shoulder surgery.
Lee was dominant in the paint for the Scarlet Knights in 2010-11, leading the squad in rebounding with 7.5 per game. She also contributed on the offensive end with 8.5 points per game, including 16 double-figure scoring games.
Lee grabbed seven or more boards in 22 games had six double-digit rebounding games and was the team’s leading rebounder in 19 contests. She recorded a team-best five double-doubles. Lee has been the Scarlet Knights’ leading rebounder in each of her past two seasons and averages 5.6 per game for her career.
FILLING UP THE STAT SHEET
Rutgers had 13 double-double performances last season, coming from six different Scarlet Knights. Monique Oliver had a team-best six on the season. Oliver most recently posted 23 points and 11 rebounds against Marquette in the BIG EAST Championship. Bentnijah Laney had one double-double last season becoming the first freshman to post a double-double in their rookie season since 2008 with 10 points and 10 rebounds vs. Florida.
Alexis Burke joins the Scarlet Knights, but will sit out the 2012-13 season as per NCAA transfer rules after coming to Rutgers after two seasons at the University of Illinois.
Last season Burke appeared in 30 games, for the Fighting Illini making 12 starts and earning the team’s Most Improved Award as a sophomore. She played in 31 games as a true freshman and was named to the All-Tournament Team at the Wakikki Beach Marriott Rainbow Wahine Showdown.
At the high school level, Burke was ranked the No. 50 overall prospect nationally by ESPNU HoopGurlz and the No. 11 small forward. She was also named the Georgia Class 4A Player of the Year.
RUTGERS HAULS IN HIGHLY-TOUTED CLASS
Rutgers hauled in another nationally-recognized and highly-touted recruiting class with the addition of four standouts in last year’s early signing period ready to take the court against the Lady Bulldogs
Rachel Hollivay • 6-4 • Post • Heritage Academy • Columbus, Miss.
Hollivay, the No. 2 ranked post player and the eighth-rated recruit overall by ESPNU HoopGurlz, played two seasons with Heritage Academy (Miss.) after two seasons with New Hope High School. In her sophomore season at New Hope, the 6-4 post helped the Trojans to their first district championship in 18 years, averaging 13.0 points per game for the black and gold. Hollivay, a five-star prospect, was invited to Colorado Springs on two occasions for the U16 and U17 National Team Trials. Hollivay was also rated No. 11 in the country by Dan Oldson’s Collegiate Girls Reports, a national scouting service.
Kahleah Copper • 6-1 • Guard • Prep Charter • Philadelphia, Pa.
Copper, a 6-1 wing, was familiar faces when she stepped ontp campus this fall, having played club basketball with the NYC Gauchos, joining current Scarlet Knights Briyona Canty and Betnijah Laney. The No. 17 overall ranked player and the fifth-ranked wing player comes from Prep Charter in Philadelphia, where she helped the Huskies to a Public League Championship last season. In the 49-39 victory over Central in the championship game, Copper scored a game-high 19 points and pulled down 17 boards en route to Most Valuable Player accolades.
Ariel Butts • 6-3 • Post • Carver • Columbus, Ga.
Butts, a 6-3 post, averaged a triple-double during her junior season at Carver High School with 20 points, 18 rebounds and 10 blocks per contest. The Columbus, Ga. native is ranked 75th overall by ESPNU HoopGurlz Top-100 and is rated the ninth-best post player in the country.
Precious Person • 6-1 • Guard • Charles Drew • Rex, Ga.
Person, a four-star recruit, is ranked No. 69 overall by ESPNU HoopGurlz and 28th at the guard position. Standing at 6-1, Person will bring a long, lean presence to the Scarlet Knights perimeter game. The Rex, Ga. native was the first player from her high school, Charles Drew, to sign a college scholarship, after helping the Lady Titans to the school’s first Region 4-AAA Championship and a state playoff berth.