PISCATAWAY, N.J. (January 11, 2013) – The Rutgers women’s basketball team closes out a two-game road trip visiting the #2/3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Purcell Pavilion on Sunday, Jan. 13 at 3:30 p.m. Sunday’s game will air on ESPNU with Jim Barbar and Krista Blunk on the call. Fans can also listen to on WRSU with David Servedio and John Manganelli calling all the action..
The Scarlet Knights have opened BIG EAST play with a pair of thrillers - a 48-44 setback to St. John’s at the RAC last Sunday and most recently a 66-57 overtime loss at #15/13 Louisville on Tuesday night. Rutgers will enter Sunday’s contest with the Fighting Irish sporting a 9-6 overall record and 0-2 BIG EAST mark.
Senior Monique Oliver continues to top the stat sheet for the Scarlet Knights. A BIG EAST Preseason Selection, she currently leads the squad at 11.0 points and 5.2 rebounds. After missing the second half of the Dec. 30 game at #13/15 Tennessee, all of the final non-conference contest with La Salle on Jan. 2 and playing limited minutes in the BIG EAST opener against St. John’s on Jan. 6 with an ankle sprain, Oliver was back in form narrowly missing a double-double against the Cardinals on Tuesday. Oliver shot 5-of-8 from the floor to capture 10 points and haul in a game-high nine rebounds.
Classmate guard Erica Wheeler is second on the stat sheet and the other Scarlet Knight averaging double figures at 10.7 points per contest. She has poured in double figures the last five consecutive games, including a team-high 18 points on Tuesday at Louisville. Her 18 points against the Cardinals was one point shy of her season high. Wheeler is also averaging 3.0 rebounds, 3.1 steals, and 2.6 assists per contest.
Sophomore Betnijah Laney is third on the team at 8.2 points per contest along with 4.2 boards per game. Laney led RU last Sunday against St. John’s with 15 points, while she tied her season-high with 11 points and career-high with seven rebounds in the final non-conference contest with La Salle. On Tuesday at Louisville, she was one of four Scarlet Knights in double figures with 12 points.
RU’s last win - a 54-50 win over La Salle on Jan. 2 - brought head coach C. Vivian Stringer closer to the 900-win mark needing only six more victories to reach the milestone.
LAST TIME OUT - AT LOUISVILLE
The #15/13 Louisville Cardinals needed overtime to pull out a win over the Rutgers women’s basketball team, 66-57, on Tuesday night at the KFC YUM! Center. The Scarlet Knights led by as many as 11 points in the second half.
Tied at 52-52 at the end of regulation, the Cardinals outscored the Scarlet Knights in overtime, 14-5, to take the victory. It was the second straight overtime contest between the two squads.
Down 7-2 to start the game, Rutgers proceeded to take a15-0 run to take a lead well into second half play. Sophomore Betnijah Laney was responsible for seven points during the run which held the Cardinals scoreless for a period of seven and a half minutes. Senior Monique Oliver, who helped RU to 20 first half paint points, went inside to give the Scarlet Knights an 11-point lead, 22-11, with 7:05 on the clock. Louisville, however, would close the gap by the half.
The Cardinals outscored the Scarlet Knights 11-6 over the first half’s final seven minutes to pull to within four at the intermission. While a pair of free throws by Louisville’s Monique Reid minimized the Cardinal deficit to two, 26-24, RU came back down the court for the half’s final possession. While senior Erica Wheeler’s three-point attempt hit the rim, classmate Chelsey Lee captured the put back to put Rutgers ahead, 28-24, heading into the locker rooms.
Second half action started with a 9-2 run by RU and the Scarlet Knights led by as many as 11 points. Oliver once again forced her way to the basket to give her team a 37-26 edge with 17:22 left in regulation.
The Cardinals used a 9-2 run of their own to close to within four, 39-35. Laney drained a three on the next trip down the court for the Scarlet Knights, but Louisville would hold RU scoreless for the next seven minutes and retake the lead for the first time since the 15 minute mark of the first half. The Cardinals meanwhile captured 11 unanswered points to go ahead, 46-42, with 6:37 remaining in the second half.
The final two minutes of the game saw four lead changes and two ties. With Louisville up by four, Wheeler responded with five quick points to return the Scarlet Knight advantage. Wheeler drained a three-point from the left corner and followed with a fast break as RU led, 49-48, with 1:50 on the clock. A pair of free throws by the Cardinals’ Bria Smith gave Louisville a one point edge, but Rutgers took back the lead, 52-50, as sophomore Syessence Davis sank a three as time expired on the shot clock with just 27 seconds to go. Louisville’s Shoni Schimmel tied the contest up with six seconds left. Although a turnover gave the Cardinals one last attempt to win the game with two seconds left in regulation, Louisville was unable to get off the shot and the game went into overtime.
Four Scarlet Knights finished in double figures led by Wheeler with 18. Laney added 12 points, while Oliver and Lee both recorded 10 point games.
Louisville got 21 points from Schimmel and 18 from Reid off the bench. Smith and Antonita Slaughter each contributed 10-points apiece in the win.
SCOUTING NOTRE DAME
The Scarlet Knights will be taking on a squad ranked No. 2 in the nation by the Associated Press and No. 3 in the country according to the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll when they tip-off against the Fighting Irish on Sunday. Notre Dame enters Sunday’s game with a 13-1 overall record and 2-0 BIG EAST mark.
Like RU, the Fighting Irish will be coming off an overtime contest from Tuesday night. Notre Dame needed the extra five minute period to knock off USF,75-71, in the Sunshine State to improve to 2-0 in the league. The Irish’s other BIG EAST victory was a one-point, 73-72, win over UConn last Saturday.
Notre Dame’s only loss this season was a 73-61 setback to top-ranked Baylor on Dec. 5. Since then, the Fighting Irish have rattled off eight straight wins.
At the Purcell Pavilion, Notre Dame sports a 5-1 record.
Junior guard Kayla McBride leads four players averaging double figures for the Irish. McBride checks in at 15.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game while senior guard Skylar Diggins is averaging 15.1 points and 5.9 assists per contest. McBride and Diggins are 10th and 11th in the BIG EAST in scoring respectively. Junior forward Natalie Achonwa is third on the stat sheet at 14.5 points along with a team-leading 9.3 rebounds per game. She is second in the league in boards per contest. Rounding out the double figure averages is rookie guard Jewell Loyd at 13.0 points and 5.7 boards per outing.
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is in her 31st season as head coach and 26th season at the helm of the Fighting Irish program. McGraw is only nine wins away from reaching the 700 career-win milestone.
ALL-TIME SERIES WITH NOTRE DAME
Rutgers holds a 16-12 series advantage over Notre Dame, but has dropped the last three straight against the Fighting Irish, including last season’s 71-41 loss at the RAC. Notre Dame has scored 71 points in the last two meetings.
LAST TIME VS. NOTRE DAME
No. 13/14 Rutgers women’s basketball could not overcome No. 2 Notre Dame’s first half run on Jan. 31, 2012 at the RAC, falling 71-41. Monique Oliver led RU with 17 points and added a team-high nine rebounds.
The Scarlet Knights played without senior point guard Khadijah Rushdan and started four freshmen for the first time since Feb. 6, 2005. Oliver – the only upperclassmen to get the starting nod – kicked off the Scarlet Knights, tallying nine of RU’s first 11 points, including her first career three point basket.
With the game tied at 11, Rutgers lost momentum with Oliver forced to the bench after picking up her second foul. RU failed to connect on the offensive end, allowing Skylar Diggins to lead Notre Dame on a 23-6 run to take a 34-17 advantage with 5:48 remaining in the period. Diggins drained three treys during the spurt for nine of her 11 first-half points.
Rutgers made a push before the break – recording six of the final eight points, on a pair of layups by Erica Wheeler and a jumper by Betnijah Laney – cutting the lead to 40-23 at the half.
The Fighting Irish did not skip a beat in the second half, coming out of the break on an 11-2 run, thanks to a trio of jumpers by Diggins and capped off by a trey from Natalie Novosel.
Rutgers shot .240 percent from the floor in the second half, opening the door for ND to build upon its lead, which escaladed as high as 35 points with 6:39 remaining in the contest.
Wheeler ended the night with eight points, while Briyona Canty notched six.
ND held a 52-24 advantage on the boards, converting into 19 second chance points. RU’s shooting slump continued, in the past two games the Scarlet Knights are shooting a .305 clip from the floor and .048 percent from beyond the arc.
RUTGERS IN ALL-TIME BIG EAST GAMES
The Scarlet Knights are 194-87 (.690) all-time in BIG EAST regular season games. Rutgers is 84-57 (.596) all-time in BIG EAST regular season road games. Conversely, the Scarlet Knights are 110-30 (.786) in conference home games.
SCARLET KNIGHTS FACE BIG EAST ON ROAD
Rutgers has won its first BIG EAST road game in three of the last four seasons. Louisville and Rutgers went to overtime on Jan. 8 as the Scarlet Knights fell, 66-57, in their 2012-13 conference road debut. The Scarlet Knights had defeated Pittsburgh 63- 39 on the road to kick off 2011-12, earned a win over Syracuse in 2010-11 and topped Pittsburgh in 2009-10. Rutgers is 9-9 all-time in BIG EAST road openers.
PROTECTING HOME COURT
The Scarlet Knights have had an outstanding track record of success at home during the previous 10 seasons under head coach C. Vivian Stringer. Rutgers is 129-21 at the RAC since the 2002-03 season. The Scarlet Knights are currently 7-1 at the RAC this season
Rutgers at the RAC (losses in parentheses)
2012-13: 7-1 (St. John’s)
2011-12: 12-3 (Tenn, Notre Dame, St. John’s)
2010-11: 12-1 (UConn)
2009-10: 10-5 (Stanford, Temple, Notre Dame ‘Cuse, St. John’s)
2008-09: 14-4 (Tenn, USF, Pitt, UConn)
2007-09: 14-1 (Stanford)
2006-07: 11-2 (Duke, UConn)
2005-06: 11-1 (Temple)
2003-04: 14-1 (UConn)
2002-03: 11-2 (BC, Miami)
SCARLET KNIGHTS IN OT
The Scarlet Knights have played in 35 overtime games during their history, including the Jan. 8 overtime loss at Louisville, 66-57. It was the second consecutive year the Scarlet Knights and Cardinals went into OT. RU holds a 20-15 (.571)all-time mark in OT.
SECOND HALF SURGE
Rounding out the final three games of non-conference play and into the first game of the BIG EAST season, Rutgers had been averaging 18 points and shooting ,292 at the half, while their opponents had been averaging 24 points and shooting .360 from the field at intermission. The second half though had seen the Scarlet Knights surge. In second half action, RU was outscoring the opposition by an average of 8.3 points per game and was shotting .495 in the second stanza.
Opponent: 1st 2nd Final:
Stony Brook 32/25 40/19 72-44
Tennessee 13/33 34/33 47-66
La Salle 13/11 41/39 54-50
St. John’s 14/27 30/21 44-48
RU Shooting Percentage:
Opponent: 1st 2nd Final:
Stony Brook .458 (11-24) .571 (16-28) .519 (57-52)
Tennessee .222 (6-27) .480 (12-28) .346 (18-52).
La Salle .200 (5-25) .484 (15-31) .357 (20-56)
St. John’s .304 (7-23) .500 (12-24) .404 (19-47)
The trend stopped on Tuesday night at Louisville. In the first half, the Scarlet Knights poured in 28 first half points while shooting 52 percent from the field.
GETTING THE STARTING NOD
Rutgers has used nine different starting line-ups through the season’s first 15 games.
Georgia, GW (0-1):
Wheeler, Laney, Canty, Oliver, Lee
Wheeler, Laney, Canty, Evans, Lee
Wheeler, Laney, Davis, Evans, Oliver
Wheeler, Laney, Davis, Copper, Oliver
Wheeler, Laney, Davis, Richardson, Oliver
LIU:, LA Tech, Southern(3-0):
Wheeler, Laney, Davis, Evans, Oliver
Miami, Stony Brook, Tenn, Louisville (2-2):
Wheeler, Laney, Davis, Oliver, Lee
La Salle (1-0)
Hollivay, Copper, Person, Evans, Richardson
St. John’s (0-1)
Hollivay, Oliver, Laney, Wheeler, Richardson
Note: Tuesday’s line-up of Wheeler, Laney, Davis, Oliver, Lee was back in rotation for the first time since the loss at Tennessee on Dec. 30 and is the most used line-up of the season.
RUTGERS VS. THE TOP-25
Rutgers is currently 1-3 against the Top 25 in 2012-13. RU opened up the season against No. 10/11 Georgia with a 57-51 setback and captured its first win over a ranked opponent on Dec. 16 with a 42-34 victory over #21/23 Miami. The Scarlet Knights suffered a 66-47 setback at then-#13/15 Tennessee on Dec. 30 and a 66-57 overtime loss at the hands of #15/13 Louisville on Jan. 8.
The game against Notre Dame marks the fifth ranked opponent of the season.
POINTS AND REBOUNDS
With a game-high nine rebounds in RU’s overtime loss at Louisville on Jan. 8, senior Monique Oliver collected her 600th career board to become the 11th Scarlet Knight with over 1,000 points and 600 rebounds. Oliver currently has 1,067 career spoints and 603 career rebounds She needs 54 rebounds to move up in the Top 15 in the RU record books in rebounding.
SHE SAID “YES”
Former Rutgers women’s basketball center Rebecca Richman will be featured on an upcoming episode of “Say Yes to the Dress” airing on TLC on Friday, January 18th at 9:30 p.m. (EST).
“Say Yes to the Dress” is a TLC reality series which follows events at Kleinfeld Bridal in New York City. The series shows the progress of individual sales associates, managers, and fitters at the store, along with profiling brides as they search for the perfect wedding dress.
Richman played at Rutgers from 2001-05 helping the Scarlet Knights to three 20-win seasons and a pair of second round NCAA Tournament appearances.
The Rutgers women’s basketball team returns home for a pair of games. The Scarlet Knights take on Providence on Wed., Jan. 22 at 7:30 p.m. and Georgetown on Tues., Jan. 22 at 7:00 p.m. The game against the Hoyas will air on the CBS Sports Network.
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