QUEENS, N.Y. (February 23, 2013) – St. John’s led wire-to-wire as the Rutgers women’s basketball dropped its fourth straight game in a 61-48 loss Saturday afternoon at Carnesecca Arena.
The Scarlet Knights fell to 14-12 overall and 5-8 in BIG EAST play and are still looking to give head coach C. Vivian Stringer her 900th career victory. St. John’s improved to 15-10 overall and 9-4 in the BIG EAST race.
After going down 12-3 to open to the game, the Scarlet Knights on three occasions bounced back to pull within four. RU over came its nine-point opening deficit with the freshmen and sophomore contributing in the paint and trailed 14-10 with 11:13 in the first half.
After St. John’s went ahead by as many as eight after the Scarlet Knights closed the gap, sophomore Betnijah Laney (Clayton, Del.) hauled in a missed three-point attempt by the Red Storm and pushed the ball up court to senior Erica Wheeler (Miami, Fla.) for a fast break bucket cutting the RU deficit to 22-18 with 6:06 left in the half. Unfortunately, the Red Storm closed out the half on a 12-2 run and took a 34-20 lead into the locker room at the half.
Rutgers failed to connect on a field goal in the first half’s final three and a half minutes and the drought continued into the first three and a half minutes of the second half. The Scarlet Knight failed to fall until the 16:27 mark on a Kahleah Copper (Philadelphia, Pa.) lay-up. Meanwhile, the Red Storm came out of the locker room outscoring the Scarlet Knights 13-5 to enhance its lead to 22 as St. John’s went ahead 47-25 with 14:19 left in the game.
Midway through the second half of play, Rutgers was able to put together a stretch of eight unanswered points and trailed 51-38 with 8:17 left in the game. However, the 13-point gap would be as close as the Scarlet Knights would get the rest of the game. RU was held without a field goal over the game’s final 6:32 and got its final eight points from the charity stripe.
Wheeler was the lone Scarlet Knight in double digits with 11.
St. John’s Nadirah McKenith led all scorers with 21 points, Shenneika Smith added in 13 points in the win, while Aliyyah Handford contributed 10 of her 12 points in the first half.
The loss denies head coach C. Vivian Stringer her 900th career victory for a fourth time. The Scarlet Knights will attempt to give her the elusive win when they host USF at the RAC on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m.
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Rutgers dropped to 31-9 in the all-time series. St. John’s has won the last five meetings.
ON THE ROAD:
The Scarlet Knights fell to 2-10 on the road in 2012-13. Conversely, at home, Rutgers is sporting an 11-2 mark.
The four-game losing streak is the longest for the Scarlet Knights this season. During the skid, RU has fallen to DePaul, #21/18 Syracuse, and St. John’s on the road in addition to a setback at home against #3/2 UConn. The Scarlet Knights had a three-game losing streak in early January that started with the first meeting with St. John’s in addition to losses at #15/13 Louisville and #2/3 Notre Dame. RU rebounded by winning five of their next six contests.
ON THE BOARDS:
After tying both #3/2 UConn and #21/18 Syracuse on the boards in the previous two contests, RU won the rebounding battle, 36-33. Betnijah Laney tied her career-high of 10 rebounds, also captured against Florida during her freshman season.
Both the Scarlet Knights and Red Storm combined for 16 blocks in the game. RU was led by Monique Oliver with three blocks. It was the fifth time this season and 25th time in her career Oliver has swatted away three or more opponent shots in a game. She now stands at 173 career blocks.