PISCATAWAY, N.J. (February 18, 2013) – The Rutgers women’s basketball team’s game at St. John’s on Saturday has been picked up by ESPN3 as head coach C. Vivian Stringer continues her quest for career win #900. Tip-off with the Red Storm is a 2 p.m. at Carnesseca Arena. With a win, Coach Stringer will become just the seventh NCAA basketball coach - men’s or women’s - and the fourth women’s basketball coach to accomplish the feat.
John Brickley and Mandisa Turner-Watkins will be on the call for ESPN3. Fans can also tune into WCTC with Danny Breslauer on the play-by-play, as well as, WRSU with Michael Rivera and Alex Lo providing all the action.
The Scarlet Knights are looking to snap a three-game losing streak after suffering setbacks the last two weeks to DePaul, UConn, and Syracuse. RU enters the game at 14-11 overall and 5-7 in BIG EAST play.
Senior center Monique Oliver stands a top the stat sheet as the lone Scarlet Knight in double figures at 10.7 points per game along with a team-leading 5.3 rebounds per contest. Oliver is coming off a 23-point, 16-rebound performance at #21/18 Syracuse on Tuesday night. It was Oliver’s third double-double of the season and 11th of her career. The senior Scarlet Knight has returned to the starting line-up in the last two games after coming off the bench in the previous seven outings due to a deep ankle bone bruise. Oliver got the start in place of the injured Chelsey Lee who suffered a knee injury at DePaul back on Feb. 12.
Senior guard Erica Wheeler is second on the squad in scoring at 9.6 points per game. She has poured in double figures in 11 of Rutgers’ 25 games to date and has led the Scarlet Knights in scoring six times. She leads the team in steals at 2.8 per game and is third in assists at 2.5 per contest.
Sophomore Betnijah Laney is third on the team at 9.6 points per contest along with 4.4 boards per game. Laney is averaging 11.3 points per game in BIG EAST action, including a career-high 24 points performance on Jan. 16 against Providence, as well as a 12-point game against Cincinnati. She also netted eight of her 12 points in overtime against Villanova back on Feb. 2.
LAST TIME OUT - VS. SYRACUSE
Senior Monique Oliver captured her third double-double of the year tying her season-high with 23 points along with a season-high 16 rebounds in the Rutgers women’s basketball team loss to #21/18 Syracuse, 58-45, at the Carrier Dome on Tuesday night.
The game endured seven lead changes until midway through the second half when Syracuse took over the lead for good. With the game tied at 27-27 with 10:55 left in the game, the Orange outscored the Scarlet Knights 11-0 over the next three minutes. Oliver sunk four consecutive attempts from the line to pull her RU squad to within seven, 38-31, with 6:46 remaining. Syracuse responded with four consecutive free throws of their own when a sophomore Christa Evans hook shot pulled Rutgers back to within seven, 42- 35, with 5:24 left. The Scarlet Knights, however, would not get any closer.
Three-pointers by Brianna Butler and Rachel Coffey extended the Orange lead to 12, 50-38, with 3:40 left on the clock. Syracuse led by as many as 13 down the stretch.
Neither team shot well with Rutgers shooting just 25.9% (15-of-28) from the field. Syracuse shot just 26.6% (17-of-64). Both were season lows for each team.
For the second straight game the Scarlet Knights tied their opponent on the boards. Both team hauled in 49 rebounds.
ALL-TIME SERIES WITH ST. JOHN’S
It will be the 40th all-time meeting between the Scarlet Knights and Red Storm and the 24th meeting as BIG EAST rivals. After RU dropped the first-ever meeting in conference play back in the 1995-96 season, the Scarlet Knights rattled off 17 straight wins. The Red Storm however have won the last five meetings. Rutgers’ last win was a 65-48 victory Rutgers’ last win was at Carnesseca Arena on Feb. 28, 2009.
SCOUTING ST. JOHN’S
The Red Storm enter Saturday’s contest with a 14-10 overall mark and 8-4 record in BIG EAST action. At home at Carnesseca Arena, St. John’s holds a 8-4 overall mark. The Red Storm are winners of their last four games, including a 67-71 victory at Marquette on Wednesday night.
Shenneika Smith and Nadrirah McKenith are averaging double figures for the Red Storm.
Smith, a senior guard, is averaging 17.2 points per game, including 17.8 points in conference competition. She currently ranks fourth in the BIG EAST in scoring. Additionally, she leads the Red Storm on the glass at 7.3 rebounds per game., ranking her seventh in the conference in the category. Last time out with the Scarlet Knights, Smith posted a game-high 18 points and seven rebounds.
McKenith, also a senior guard, is pouring in 13.0 points per game along with 5.7 rebounds. Last time against RU, she notched 10 points, six assists, and five rebounds.
Head coach Joe Tartamella replaced Kim Barnes Arico, who accepted the head coaching job at Michigan at the end of last season. Tartamella is no stranger to the Queens, N.Y. program having been on staff since 2002 and helped the Red Storm to four NCAA Tournaments, including the Sweet 16 in 2012.
LAST TIME OUT - VS. ST JOHN’S
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 back on Jan. 6 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.
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.
Sophomore Betnijah Laney poured in 11 of her team-high 15 points in the second half. Senior Erica Wheeler 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.
RUTGERS IN ALL-TIME BIG EAST GAMES
The Scarlet Knights are 199-92 (.684) all-time in BIG EAST regular season games. Rutgers is 85-61 (.582) all-time in BIG EAST regular season road games. Conversely, the Scarlet Knights are 114-31 (.786) in conference home games.
POINTS AND REBOUNDS
Senior Monique Oliver currently has 1,171 career points and 658 career rebounds.
With her 16 rebounds at Syracuse on Tuesday night, she cracked the top 15 in rebounding at RU. She currently sits in 14th all-time and needs 28 more to move into 13th all-time past Tammy Sutton Brown (1997-01).
Additionally with her 23 points against the Orange on Tuesday, she moved into 24th all-time on the Scarlet Knights scoring leaders list. Oliver needs 39 more points to move into 23rd and surpass Patty Coyle (1978-82).
MOVING UP THE LIST:
Senior Erica Wheeler has 143 career three-point field goals and needs two more three-pointer to pass Shawnetta Stewart (1997-2000) for fifth all-time.
Additionally, she has 464 three-point attempts in her four-year career. She needs five more attempts to move past April Sykes (2008-12) into fourth all-time.
Wheeler is also about to crack the top 10 in three-point field goals attempted in a season for a second time. With 142 attempts from behind the arc this season, she needs eight more for the 10th spot on the list.
The Rutgers women’s basketball team returns home to host USF on Tuesday, Feb. 26. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m.