PISCATAWAY, N.J. (February 25, 2013) – The Rutgers women’s basketball team will look to snap a four-game losing streak and give head coach C. Vivian Stringer her 900th career win as they host USF on Tuesday at the RAC at 7:30 p.m. 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.
Fans can also tune into WCTC with Ed Cohen and Danny Breslauer on the call, as well as, WRSU with Benjamin Wolf and Benjamin Yavelberg providing all the action. The game can also be viewed on RVision at ScarletKnights.com.
The Scarlet Knights are looking to snap a four-game losing streak after suffering setbacks the last two weeks to DePaul, UConn, Syracuse, and St. John’s. RU enters the game at 14-12 overall and 5-8 in BIG EAST play.
The Scarlet Knights are currently tied with Georgetown for ninth place in the league standings heading into the final three games of the season.
Senior center Monique Oliver stands a top the stat sheet as the lone Scarlet Knight in double figures at 10.5 points per game along with a team-leading 5.2 rebounds per contest. Oliver posted a 23-point, 16-rebound performance at #21/18 Syracuse last Tuesday night and notched five points and just one rebound in Saturday’s loss at St. John’s. Against the ranked Orange last week, 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 three 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 9.7 points per game. She has poured in double figures in 13 of Rutgers’ 26 games to date and has led the Scarlet Knights in scoring seven 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 9.2 points per contest along with 4.6 boards per game. Laney hauled in a career-tying 10 rebounds against the Red Storm over the weekend. In BIG EAST action, she is averaging 11.1 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. ST. JOHN’S
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.
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 hauled in a missed three-point attempt by the Red Storm and pushed the ball up court to senior Erica Wheeler 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 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.
ALL-TIME SERIES WITH USF
The Scarlet Knights hold a 6-1 all-time advantage over USF and have won three-straight in the series. RU is undefeated on USF’s home court, winning all four match-ups, while the Bulls lone win happen on January 31, 2009 in Piscataway with a 59-56 victory.
The USF Bulls have are making a late season surge having knocked off nationally-ranked Louisville and Syracuse in their last two outings. USF comes to the RAC sporting a 19-7 overall record and 8-5 BIG EAST mark. The Bulls have won three straight and five of their last six contests.
Three Bulls have been averaging double figures led by senior guard sisters Andrea and Adrell Smith. Andrea leads her team at 17.0 points per game, tied for second among BIG EAST players, along with 5.3 rebounds per game. Andrell checks in as USF’s No. 2 scorer at 14.1 points per game and 4.9 rebounds per game followed by junior guard Inga Orekhova at 12.6 points per contest along with 3.9 rebounds per game. Freshman forward Alisia Jenkins comes to the RAC leading USF on the boards at 6.4 rebounds per game including an average of 8.4 boards in league play.
USF is second only to Connecticut in third-point field goal percentage, sinking an average of .350 from beyond the arc.
Head coach Jose Fernandez is in his 13th year with the USF women’s program. During his 13 years at USF, Fernandez has become the all-time winningest basketball coach (men’s or women’s) in school history with a program record of 208 wins. Fernandez has led his program to eight postseason appearances in the past nine years, including a WNIT championship in 2009.
LAST TIME OUT - VS. USF
Rutgers April Sykes had a game-high 23 points and 10 rebounds as the No. 7/8 Scarlet Knights defeated USF 72-66 on Saturday, Jan. 21 at the RAC.
Sykes recorded her team-leading fourth double-double of the season and fifth of her career. It was also her second 20-point game of the season. Sykes was joined in double-figures by guard Khadijah Rushdan with 16 points and junior center Monique Oliver with 14. The pair also added seven rebounds apiece.
USF opened the game outscoring RU 11-3, including three-straight three pointers to start the contest. Rutgers responded going 12-4 over the next seven minutes to tie the game at 15-15. The score remained close throughout the first half with the Scarlet Knights taking a two-point lead into halftime, 29-27.
Sykes took over in the second half, scoring the first seven points to help RU build a five-point lead (36-31). Sykes shot 8-for-11 from the floor, including 2-for-2 from behind the arc for 19 second-half points.
The Scarlet Knights led by as much as 13 points (58-45) with 6:44 left to play.
RUTGERS IN ALL-TIME BIG EAST GAMES
The Scarlet Knights are 199-93 (.682) all-time in BIG EAST regular season games. Rutgers is 85-62 (.578) all-time in BIG EAST regular season road games. Conversely, the Scarlet Knights are 114-31 (.786) in conference home games.
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 133-21 at the RAC since the 2002-03 season. The Scarlet Knights are currently 11-2 at the RAC this season.
Rutgers at the RAC (losses in parentheses)
2012-13: 11-2 (St. John’s, UConn)
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)
AND YOUTH SHALL LEAD YOU
On the season, first- and second-year Scarlet Knights have accounted for 64.4% of the playing time this season.
POINTS AND REBOUNDS
Senior Monique Oliver currently has 1,176 career points and 659 career rebounds. With her 16 rebounds at Syracuse last Tuesday night, she cracked the top 15 in rebounding at RU. She currently sits in 14th all-time in career boards and needs 27 more to move into 13th all-time past Tammy Sutton Brown (1997-01). Additionally with her 23 points against the Orange last Tuesday, she moved into 24th all-time on the Scarlet Knights scoring leaders list. Oliver needs 34 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. She also currently has 466 three-point attempts in her four-year career and needs three more attempts to move past April Sykes (2008-12) into fourth all-time. Additionally, Wheeler is about to crack the top 10 in three-point field goals attempted in a season for a second time. With 144 attempts from behind the arc this season, she needs six more for the 10th spot on the list.
The Rutgers women’s basketball team hits the road on last time in the regular season. The Scarlet Knights travel to Cincinnati on Saturday, March. 2. Game time is set for 5:00 p.m.