PISCATAWAY (January 2, 2013) - The Rutgers women’s basketball team closed out non-conference play on Wednesday night at the RAC with a 54-50 victory over La Salle.
Rutgers closes out non-conference play at 9-4 overall. RU improved to 7-0 at home this season and extended its home win streak to nine games. La Salle, also playing in its final non-conference tune up, dropped to 4-10 on the season.
Head coach C. Vivian Stringer shook up the starting line-up with three freshman – Rachel Hollivay (Columbus, Miss.), Kahleah Copper (Philadelphia, Pa.), and Precious Person (Jonesboro, Ga.) – and a pair of sophomores – Shakena Richardson (Neptune, N.J.) and Christa Evans (Jackson, N.J..) – getting the starting nod. The mainstays of the Scarlet Knight line-up returned to the hardwood with just over 14 minutes remaining in the first half.
After trailing Tennessee, 33-13, on Sunday, Rutgers had 13 points again at the half, but held a 13-11 lead on La Salle.
The game endured seven lead changes and seven ties. Neither team led by more than three points until an Erica Wheeler (Miami, Fla.) three-pointer at the top of the key as the shot clock was set to expire and a Chelsey Lee (Miami, Fla.) lay-up gave RU a 24-19 lead with 13:28 remaining . Wheeler and Lee helped to spark a 14-2 run for the Knights, which saw RU hold a 34-21 advantage with nine minutes to go. Rutgers would never trail again.
During RU’s run, the Explorers were held scoreless for a period five minutes. After a Shanel Harrison jumper at the 13:01 mark, La Salle was held without a field goal for nine minutes. However, the Explorers pulled within four, 36-32, with 6:32 left on the clock scoring 11 points all on free throws.
Rutgers extended its lead by as many as 10, but La Salle, scored eight points over the game’s final 32 seconds on a 8-3 run for the final margin.
Wheeler led the Scarlet Knights with 14 points, while Betnijah Laney (Clayton, Del.) and Hollivay, in her first career start, each notched 11 a piece.
Rutgers, who outrebounded La Salle 44-39, had Lee haul in a team-high eight rebounds in the win.
The Rutgers women’s basketball team kicks off BIG EAST action on Sunday, January 6 at 11:30 a.m. hosting St. John’s in front of ESPNU cameras.
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The starting lineup featured all underclassmen with three freshman and two sophomores getting the nod. This marks the first game of the season where more than one freshman has started and the first game of the season where there has not been a senior in the lineup. The last time a freshman started in a game was against Princeton on Nov. 14 when Kahleah Copper took the court for the opening minutes. Rachel Hollivay and Precious Person both garnered their first career starts.
HOME WIN STREAK CONTINUES:
With the win RU extends its win streak at the RAC to 7-0 on the season and 9-0 dating back to last season.
LOOKING AT THE SERIES:
The win also advances RU’s all-time series record with the Explorers to 5-1, winning the last five games of the series. In their meeting last season, the Scarlet Knights topped LaSalle 61-48.
NEW CAREER MARKS:
Freshman Rachel Hollivay was one of three Scarlet Knights in double figures finishing the night 11 points, marking a new career and season high. She also notched six rebounds, topping her previous season and career-best five from the Stony Brook match up back on Dec. 21.
The 13 first-half points ties for the fewest points scored by Rutgers all season. Similarly, they netted 13 first-half points last game in the loss to No. 13/15 Tennessee.
The 11 first-half Explorer points were the fewest points allowed by the Scarlet Knights this season. Previously, the fewest points allowed was 14 against Temple on Nov. 21.
Rutgers’ 41 second-half points is the most points scored in the second-half of a game this season. The previous high was 40 in RU’s 72-44 win over Stony Brook on Dec. 21.
FROM OFF THE BENCH:
Senior guard Erica Wheeler came off the bench to grab seven steals, setting a career and season high in the category.
Head Coach C. Vivian Stringer
On the game:
“We won. I’m happy we won. We did win, we did out rebound the team. We shot 20% in the first half, but we did get better in the second half, so that’s a positive. We keep going down by so much and then overcoming it, and that’s a consistent thing that’s a negative that we have got to get straightened out. The other thing is 20 turnovers. That disturbs me. They’re unforced turnovers. At some point in the second half I thought we had calmed down.”
On the starting lineup
“I think we need to play a lot of people and give them a chance. It’s as simple as that.”
“I thought the team did a great job. I thought that they were very supportive of the people that were in. That’s all we’re looking for because a team is a team. All 12 people make a difference. It’s not just the people that start, because no one’s entitled to that. You earn the opportunity with the things that you do, from the passes, the rebounds, the assists and all those other things. No one just comes in there just because you have seniority. That’s just not going to happen. Ever. Long story short, we’ve got to continue to work, we’ve got to continue to compete better and more consistently within our own group.”
On momentum shifting after her made three-pointer:
“I don’t think the shot did. It wasn’t a really good shot. It had to go up or it would have been a turnover. In timeout, coach was saying that we needed to get defensive stops, so I think in the second half we listened to what she was saying and applied it on the court.
On going into BIG EAST play:
“As a whole, as a team, we need to just get better. We don’t have many practices to tighten up certain things, but we need to have confidence and rely on our defense. We need to score more as guards. We cant keep relying on the posts because teams are going to start noticing that and double down. We need to continue as a team to move forward and not be negative, but just be positive.
On the starting lineup:
“I don’t think anyone was nervous. I just think that it was a learning experience for us to go out with different people and a different starting lineup. It was just something that we tried and something we can learn and grow from.
On heading into BIG EAST play:
“I feel we’ll be fine. We’re beating ourselves. I don’t see any team that is beating us, we’re just beating ourselves.”