PISCATWAY, N.J. (November 25, 2012) – The Rutgers women’s basketball team overcame a 15-point first half deficit to walk away with a 55-49 victory over Davidson Sunday afternoon at the RAC.
Senior Monique Oliver (Miami, Fla.),who missed the Scarlet Knights’ last outing at Temple on Wednesday, returned to the court for a team-high 15 points. She was also just one rebound shy of a double-double, finishing the game with nine.
Sophomore Betnijah Laney (Clayton, Del.) also notched 15 points in the win for Rutgers, while senior Erica Wheeler (Miami, Fla.) had 12. Wheeler also had four assists and four steals. Sophomore Syessence Davis (Neptune, N.J.) got her first start of the season and dished out the ball eight times for a new career mark.
The win over the Wildcats, the 2012 Southern Conference regular season champions, improves Rutgers to 3-1 on the season. Davidson meanwhile drops to 1-3 overall.
Leading 5-4 in the early moments of the game, the Scarlet Knights fell behind by nine as Davidson went on a 10-2 run thanks to their precision from behind the arc. The Wildcats’ Dakota Dukes gave
Davidson a 15-point, 27-12 edge with 4:41 in the opening stanza and from there Rutgers would gradually chip away at the Wildcat lead.
Oliver got the Scarlet Knights to a single digit deficit on free throws in the closing seconds of the half as Rutgers trailed 29-20 at the break. Rutgers was limited to just five field goals and shot only 17 percent (5-of-29) from the field.
The second half had RU roaring back shooting 50 percent from the floor and outscoring the Wildcats, 35-20. The Scarlet Knights sank six of their opening seven shots of the half, including Laney draining two of her 15 points with 16:40 on the clock to give RU its first lead since the opening moments of the game.
Senior Chelsey Lee (Miami, Fla.) powered her way inside to give Rutgers a 33-31 lead with 15:30 left and from there the lead changed hand five times on the next five possessions.
Davidson went back up six as Laura Murray connected one of her six three-pointers for the game and leading scorer Sophia Aleksandravicius got inside for a 41-47 Wildcat lead with eight minutes left.
Wheeler helped to shift momentum back to the Scarlet Knights. After hitting a three, Wheeler came up with a steal to feed Davis for a fast break bucket and a 48-47 lead with three minutes to go.
Davidson’s Aleksandravicius responded with a basket at the other end, but it would be the final points the Wildcats would score.
Oliver gave Rutgers the lead for good as she powered her way past three Wildcat defenders en-route to the basket and was followed by another key Wheeler steal leading to a wide open lay-up. The Scarlet Knights led 52-49 with 1:15 remaining as Davidson’s Murray tried to tie the game up on a three, but Lee came up the with rebound. While Laney’s three-pointer was off mark on the Knights’ trip down the court, Oliver grabbed the miss and added to the Rutgers cushion with free throws.
Oliver finished out the game’s final 46 seconds making 3-of-4 free throws. She finished shooting 9-of-10 from the charity stripe.
Davidson’s Murray led all scorers with 24 points and shot 6-of-10 from three-point range. Aleksandravicius added in 12 points in the loss.
The Rutgers women’s basketball team returns to action on Thursday at Princeton. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m.
Sunday’s meeting was the first between Davidson and Rutgers.
WELCOME BACK MO:
Sunday afternoon’s game was Monique Oliver’s 99th career game and was also her 64th career start. She returned to line-up after missing the Temple contest with a strained Achilles. Prior to her sitting out last Wednesday’s contest with the Owls, Oliver had made 76 consecutive appearances on the court for the Knights, including 21 consecutive starts. Oliver returned to the floor for a team-high 15 points and nine rebounds, narrowly missing out on her second double-double of the year and 10th of her career.
FEW FIELD GOALS:
The first half saw the fewest made field goals (5) since last year’s match-up with Connecticut in the BIG EAST Tournament when Rutgers put up five in the second half of play. Rutgers finished the UConn game with 11 field goals.
Although the Scarlet Knights shot just 5-of-29 from the field in the first half, in the second half, Rutgers went 14-of-28.
MOVING UP THE LIST:
Erica Wheeler’s three three-pointers brought her career total to 112, putting her at a tie for eighth on the made three-pointers list. She is currently tied with Liz Hansen (1992-96), Matee Ajavon (2004-08), and Mauri Horton (1999-2003). She needs 20 more three-pointers to pass Epiphanny Prince (2006-09) for seventh all-time.
After ten shots behind the arc, Wheeler moves up to ninth in the attempted three-pointer category with 348. She passed Mauri Horton (1999-03) who previously sat in ninth with 339. She needs 28 more attempts to move past Matee Ajavaon (2004-08) into eighth all-time.
RESETTING THE SEASON MARKS
Betnijah Laney dropped a season-high 15 points surpassing her previous high of 13 captured in Rutgers’ last outing at Temple only four days ago.
Sophomore Syessence Davis garnered her fourth career starting nod and first of the 2012-13 campaign against Davidson. She tied her career mark in steals with five. The last time she had five steals was last season against Providence. Davis’s eight assists also topped her previous career high of five, which she posted last season against Iona.
The starting line-up of Monique Oliver, Christa Evans, Betnijah Laney, Syessence Davis, and Erica Wheeler marked the third different starting-line up in the four game played to-date.
Head Coach C. Vivian Stringer
Overall thoughts on the game:
“I think that [the fight] is what you’re looking for in a team. You obviously don’t want to get down as far as we did, but you want to be able to get back up. I think it’s something that we demonstrated at Georgia and something that also happened here. We’re feeling good about the fight and the intensity and there’s never a head that was dropped. There was an attitude that we were going to get it done.”
“I was pleased. There are a lot of things that we’ll continue to work on, but as long as we accept and embrace those things, then we’ll be fine.”
“I think we found one big issue that’s going to be very helpful in the future, and that’s our desire to fight. You could see that in Monique Oliver who didn’t play in the Temple game because she had been hurt. You can see that in Erica (Wheeler), in her determination not to give up. It was good to see it in Betnijah (Laney) as a young person, and really in all of them.”
On the second half:
“I think we were rushing [in the first half], and we didn’t seem to have a sync. We got a wake up call. We can’t get caught in a situation where we’re down as many points as we were.
On the second half:
Coach was telling us to remain positive and to settle down a little bit. We had some bad turnovers in the first half and we weren’t finishing. We weren’t executing. She told us to calm down and execute, and that’s what we did. We executed and played together as a team.
On gaining confidence in shooting:
After I hit the first one in the second half, and then the next one, my confidence was brought up.
On the perimeter shooting:
It has been a matter of me taking my time with my shot, not rushing it, and taking good shots. I think after watching film of the last two games, that’s what I did. I relaxed, calmed myself down and took better shots.
On how she was feeling in her first game post injury:
Overall in the game, I felt good. After I saw how my team was scoring and everybody was hype, I forgot all about the pain and just kept playing.
On marking Davidson’s Laura Murray:
In the scouting report that Coach P(ointer) gave us, we knew that she was the shooter, but it was just that we weren’t getting out hands out. She had a quick release and we just had to get out there and we didn’t do it. I think we did a little better of a job in the second half, but it still wasn’t as much as we wanted to.
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