PISCATAWAY (January 6, 2013) – The Rutgers women’s basketball team had a late second half surge thwarted in the final seconds as the Scarlet Knights fell, 48-44, to the St. John’s Red Storm to open up 2012-13 BIG EAST play on Sunday afternoon at the RAC.
After trailing the Red Storm by 15 with 4:02 left in the game, RU exploded on a 14-2 run and pulled to within two, 46-44, with 15 seconds remaining. After being fouled, St. John’s Amber Thompson went to the line. Thompson missed the free throw and prepared for a second attempt as it was realized that St. John’s was in a one-and-one situation. Thompson went back to the line for a do over and sank both free throws to put the visitors up by four for the game’s final margin.
The loss drops Rutgers to 9-5 on the season and 0-1 in the BIG EAST. St John’s, also playing in its conference opener, improved to 7-6 overall and 1-0 in the BIG EAST.
Rutgers trailed 27-14 in the first half, but used a stifling defense while shooting 50 percent (12-of-24) in the second half to outscore the Red Storm 30-21 in the second stanza.
Sophmore Betnijah Laney (Clayton, Del.) poured in 11 of her team-high 15 points in the second half. Senior Erica Wheeler (Miami, Fla.) was the other Scarlet Knight in double figures with 11.
St. John’s Shenneika Smith led all scorers with 18 points with Nadirah McKenith and Aliyyah Handford each netting 10 points apiece.
Looking at a 13-point halftime deficit, the Scarlet Knights were able to pull within six opening second half action on a 9-2 run. Wheeler drilled a long jumper near the top of the lane with 13:11 on the clock to cap the run as RU trailed 29-23. St. John’s then limited Rutgers to just two field goals during the next seven and a half minutes to take its largest margin of the game, 44-29, before the Scarlet Knight made the late surge.
The Rutgers women’s basketball team returns to the hardwood in a pair of BIG EAST road contests. RU will travel to Louisville on Jan 8 for 7:00 p.m. tip-off. The game with the #10/11 Cardinals will be televised by CBS Sports Network with Brent Stover and Deb Antonelli RU will then take on Notre Dame meeting up with the #5/5 Irish in South Bend on Sun. Jan. 13 at 3:30 p.m. in front of the ESPNU cameras.
RU used the ninth different starting line-up over the course of its 14 games to date. Sunday’s line-up included Rachel Hollivay and Monique Oliver in the post. Hollivay made her second career start while Oliver returned to the floor after missing the second half of the Dec. 30 game with Tennessee and the La Salle contest with a sprained ankle. Rounding out the starting five was Erica Wheeler, Betnijah Laney, and Shakena Richardson.
HOME WIN STREAK HALTED:
Rutgers had its nine-game home win streak, dating back to last season, halted with the loss to St. John’s. Entering Sunday’s contest, RU had won all seven previous home contests in the 2012-13 campaign. The Scarlet Knights last home loss was a 60-50 loss to West Virginia on February 15, 2012.
A LOOK AT THE SERIES:
The Scarlet Knights drop to 31-8 all-time against the Red Storm. St. John’s has won the last five straight meetings.The 44 points were the fewest by Rutgers in a game against St. John’s since the team scored 42 on in a win on Feb. 19, 1997.
IN BIG EAST OPENERS:
Rutgers’ all-time record in BIG EAST openers moved to 12-6 and 10-2 in openers at the RAC.
GETTING ON TO THE BOARDS:
The 23 rebounds against the Red Storm were the fewest of the season for the Scarlet Knights. The previous low was 26 at Princeton (Nov. 29). RU was outrebounded 41-23 marking only the fourth time this season the Scarlet Knights
Betnijah Laney and Erica Wheeler both hit double-digit points, putting up 15 and 12 tallies, respectively. It marked the fifth time this season that Laney scored 10 or more points and the eighth for Wheeler. Wheeler has reached double-figures in four straight games.
HONORARY COACHES OF THE GAME:
Long-time Rutgers women’s basketball supporters Barbara and Rachel Littman served as Honorary Coaches of the Game for their generous support of the Scarlet Knights.
Head Coach C. Vivian Stringer
On the ref’s explanation on the last play
“He apologized and said it was his mistake. He thought it was a two-shot foul and didn’t realize until later that it was a one-and-one. Because it was his fault, she had to shoot the whole thing over.
On the one-and-one reshoot with the game on the line:
“Obviously we don’t agree with it, but there’s nothing that we can do about it. It’s human error. If we want to take a positive from it, we know, especially with nine freshmen and sophomores, that when a game can be changed like that in your own place, you know what you have to do when you’re out on the road. That’s what’s clear. Not to take away from either team, because I think St. John’s played a great game, and I was extremely proud of how our team played. I thought we played with great heart, hustle, and we’ve worked hard. It was only fitting that we would come back as we were. To have the game end as it did, just leave a deep hole in the pit of your stomach. Our character will be tested and we will rise. In less than 24 hours we are getting on a plane to head to Louisville.”
On falling behind in games:
“It’s something that we’ve somehow got to get a handle on because we go into these huge deficits and then we come back extremely well during the second half. The significant stat was the rebounding because they got a number of offensive rebounds. They almost doubled our rebounding and it was all of their players, guards as well. It’s obviously something that we need to address. They’re not any smaller than us, nor are they any taller than us. This has got to be something that we do.”
“I’m glad that they played as they did, because I’m more confident in our team. I’m looking to the future and what we need to do. I think we are getting better and we have gotten better, and I like the fight that we have. Now we’ll see if we can put this all together in the beginning of the game.”
On Monique Oliver’s injury:
“She just hasn’t fully recovered from her injury.”
“I thought Rachel Hollivay did a great job in giving us a target, and coming in there as a freshman and posting up as she did.”
On the team battling back:
“I think by us not giving up it gave everybody energy, and we just keep the energy which allowed us to come back and hit the shots that we were missing to continue to stay in the game.
On the comeback being encouraging for future play:
“It shows us what we need to do and what we do well and what we need to continue to work on.