ATHENS, Ga. – Seniors Erica Wheeler (Miami, Fla.) and Chelsey Lee (Miami, Fla.) each reached double figure scoring and sophomore Christa Evans (Jackson, N.J.) captured a career-high nine points and nine rebounds in the Rutgers women’s basketball season opening loss to #10/11 Georgia, 57-51.
Wheeler finished the afternoon with a game-high 12 points. Lee, who sat out last season, returned to the court to add in 11 points in the loss.
Four of Georgia’s five starters captured double figures led by Khaalidah Miller. Anne Marie Armstrong, Jasmine James and Jasmine Hassell all had 10 points each.
Tied at 12-12 midway through the first half, Georgia used a 16-6 run to take a 10-point advantage, 28-18, as the teams went to the locker rooms at the half.
The second half however opened up with the Scarlet Knights on fire. Rutgers opened second half play on an 11-1 run not allowing the Lady Bulldogs a field goal for over seven minutes. Sophomore Betnijah Laney (Clayton, Del.) capped the run to pull the Scarlet Knights to within two, 31-29, with 12:47 remaining.
Coming out of the under-eight media time out, it looked as if momentum could have been swinging Georgia’s way, Just prior to the time out Erika Ford pushed the Lady Dogs to a 40-34 lead with 7:20 to go, hitting a free throw, a put-back and a coast-to-coast layup in a 77-second span. Then after senior Monique Oliver (Miami, Fla.) made one of two free attempts, Miller drained a three-point from the left side of the arc to give her Lady Bulldogs an eight-point cushion.
Sophomore Shakeena Richardson (Neptune, N.J.) responded with her own three-pointer high above the top of the key and Rutgers was back to trailing by only five points, 43-48, with six minutes left in the game.
Georgia went up by as many as 10 with two minutes remaining and managed to hit on eight of nine attempts from the line down the final stretch. Wheeler closed the gap back to five with 16 seconds left and had a chance to pull her Scarlet Knights to within three with 10 seconds remaining but was unable to connect.
The Scarlet Knights won the battle of the boards, 42-29, led by Evan’s nine boards and Laney’s seven.
The Rutgers women’s basketball team returns to action in its 2012-13 season home opener on Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m.
Erica Wheeler, Briyona Canty, Monique Oliver, Betnijah Laney, Chelsey Lee
- Rutgers falls to 26-13 in season openers.
- Rutgers falls to 21-18 in road openers.
- Rutgers is now 9-9 in season openers under C. Vivian Stringer
- Rutgers is now 0-4 at Stegeman Coliseum, home court of the University of Georgia
WELCOME BACK CHELSEY LEE
Chelsey Lee wasted no time in making her comeback known scoring the first four points of the 2012-13 season. The fifth-year senior had six points on 3-of-4 shooting at the half along with a pair of rebounds. The second half saw Lee make both her field goal attempts and add another pair of boards. While scoring 11 points total, Lee played just eight minutes in the first half and seven in the second half due to foul trouble.
LEGENDS OF THE GAME
Together Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer and Georgia’s Andy Landers have combined for 1763 wins as head coaches. Stringer is the all-time winningest active coach with 885 wins while Landers is sixth among all-time winningest active coaches with 878.
Erica Wheeler made her 100th appearance in a Scarlet Knight uniform in the season opener at Georgia.
With nine points against Georgia, Christa Evans replaces her previous career-high of four points. She netted four points on four occasions last season with the most recent coming against USF on Jan. 21, 2012. Her nine rebounds against the Lady Bulldogs was also a career mark surpassing her previous high of six against Fordham on Dec. 8, 2011.
Rutgers Head Coach C. Vivian Stringer
On her reaction to the season opener…
“I saw a lot of fight, energy, tenacity, enthusiasm, and never giving up. Individually, I was impressed with Christa Evans – look at her first year and look at her now. She’s developed such confidence. And Briyona Canty has never played the point before and came in and did well. Those were question marks that I had. I’m pleased with our attitude of trying to get better. We just need to recognize different parts of the game and get better.”
On the 2012-13 squad…
“I’ve enjoyed coaching this group. They’re a good group of young ladies. They’re fun, and they take it personally, so I am sure they’re going to work hard to get better after this. People ask why I’d play the No. 10 team in the country today, and it doesn’t matter to me. My view is what’s going on in the long run. We are a young team, and that’s not to make excuses, but we need to get more of an attitude in terms of how do we get better. I know we’ll go back tomorrow and work harder.”
On playing her friend Andy Landers…
“Coach Landers has done this job with such excellence for so long. He’s nothing less than an outstanding coach. He has a team of great athletes, and they’re disciplined. They know how to execute. I am not surprised. He is the dean of SEC coaches, and with that comes a great level of knowledge and intensity, and we all have a great respect for the job he does. It’s funny, instead of shaking hands we just hug each other. We’ve had meals together, we are great friends. People don’t understand that, but you can’t be in this work for this long and not have your colleagues as your friends. I have nothing but respect for him.”
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