PISCATAWAY, N.J. (Feb. 26, 2013) – Head coach C. Vivian Stringer picked up her 900th career victory as the Rutgers women’s basketball team downed South Florida, 68-56, at the RAC, Tuesday. Stringer became just the seventh Division I NCAA basketball coach – men’s or women’s – and the fourth women’s basketball coach to reach that plateau. Stringer is currently second among active coaches behind UNC’s Sylvia Hatchell, who has 904 career wins.
The Scarlet Knights snap a four-game losing streak and improved to 15-12 overall and 6-8 in BIG EAST play. The Bulls fell to 19-8 and 8-6 in conference contests, ending a three-game win streak.
Rutgers was led by a pair of 20-point scorers with senior Erica Wheeler (Miami, Fla.) capturing a season-high 24 points and sophomore Betnijah Laney (Clatyon, Del.) pouring in 20 points. Laney was just shy of a double-double performance as she hauled in a game-high nine rebounds.
USF was led by Courtney Williams with 15 points off the bench. Andrea Smith, the BIG EAST’s second leading scorer notched 11 in the loss.
The first half was back-and-forth, with RU leading by three, 27-24, with 3:51 remaining. The Scarlet Knights then went on an 8-0 run to close the period, including a three-point buzzer-beater by sophomore guard Syessence Davis (Neptune, N.J.) as time expired to take a 35-24 lead into the locker room.
RU led by as many as 16 in the second half at the 12:16 mark as Wheeler drained one of her six three-pointers on the evening to give the Scarlet Knights a 51-35 edge. The Bulls chipped away and moved to within eight, 57-49, with 5:14 to play, however USF was limited to just one field goal the rest of the game
The Scarlet Knights shot a blistering 51.0 percent (25-of-49) from the floor in their best shooting game since their Jan. 30 victory at Marquette seven games ago.
The Scarlet Knights continue play on the road, taking on BIG EAST foe Cincinnati on Saturday, March 2 at 5 p.m. It will be RU’s final regular season road game of the year.
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WELCOME TO THE CLUB:
Head coach C. Vivian Stringer becomes the third Division I coach to reach the 900-career win milestone during the 2012-13 season along with UNC’s Sylvia Hatchell on the women’s side and Syracuse’s Jim Boehiem on the men’s side.
Georgia head coach Andy Landers won his 900th career victory on Sunday, however the NCAA lists his career win total at 818 because Landers garnered 82 wins at Roane State College. The NCAA only counts victories at four-year institutions in its career records.
Other Division I coaches who have reached the 900-career victory mark include Tennessee’s Pat Summit, Texas’ Jody Conradt along with Mike Krzyzewski, Bob Knight and Boeheim in men’s hoops.
DOUBLE YOUR PLEASURE:
Senior guard Erica Wheeler and sophomore forward Betnijah Laney led Rutgers, posting their 14th and 12th double-digit scoring games of the season, respectively. Wheeler set a season-high with 24 points, her first time with 20 or more, and tied a season-best in field goals made (8). Laney posted 20 on the night, her second time with 20 or more on the season, and was one rebound shy of notching a double-double with a team-high nine.
MOVING ON UP:
With six three-pointers, Wheeler moved into fifth place all-time with 149 three-point field goals made in her career and tied her career-high for the most in a game. She passed Shawnetta Stewart (1997-00) who has 144. Wheeler also moved into the fourth place all-time with 477 three-pointers attempted.
Rutgers shot 59.1 percent in the opening half, its best mark since compiling a shooting percentage of 66.7 in the second half of a 72-54 win at Marquette on Jan. 30. RU trailed just once in the contest, by three points, with 7:59 remaining in the first.
Rutgers moved to 7-1 all-time against South Florida, winning four-straight over the Bulls, and is now 12-2 when playing in the RAC this season.
BEYOND THE ARC:
RU shot 50.0 percent from beyond the arc, its second-best performance from deep this season.
Rutgers posted a 12-point victory over the Bulls taking 20 less shots than its opponent.
Head Coach C. Vivian Stringer
On 900 wins:
“I think it’s beyond words. I’m happy that it’s over. I’m excited. I have such a passion for this game, and I think I said this to you in the beginning of the year – how much I love this team. I appreciate the support we’ve had from our fans and everybody else. It has been frustrating because we’ve come so close, whether it was an overtime game, or whatever, it just seemed like it was meant to be that we would come back here. It was great to see the young people here grow up, and I think that when I look back on my life, this team right here probably best reflects what 900 has been. It helped me to remember that it was never easy.”
“Unless you realize how fortunate you are to be able to get to those special places that I’ve been so fortunately a part of with so many coaches who have dedicated their lives, and players who believed in me, and parents who allowed their daughters to come and be a part of this, and the administrators who allowed me to be a part of this and believed in me, this year, or all the years, has taught me everything. It has been a reflection of everything and I’m grateful for the opportunity to see these young women come together and demonstrate that to me and to them and to the world.”
“It really, really has caused me to reflect. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been great, and I’m really happy to be a part of it.”
On the end of the game:
“I never allowed myself to [think about having the win], because as we say, it’s not over until it’s over.”
“I was really proud of the effort. You could see that the team didn’t have any doubts in their minds as they rebounded, and played great defense, and talked. They brought it together. I would never be so bold as to assume that everything’s going to be so easy because Jose is an outstanding team. That is a great team. This is the same team that took Notre Dame to the last couple of minutes.”
On having a good game during the 900th win:
“To sum it all up, the last few practices we’ve been having have been great. We have practiced so hard and I told them that the way we practice is the way we need to play. I feel that since I was fired up, my team fed off me. They also helped me out. It was about having faith and never giving up. That’s one thing [Coach Stringer] teaches us.”
“I’m really happy to be a part of it. We have all been working really hard to get her this win. It’s exciting to actually be able to see her through.”