PISCATAWAY, N.J. (March 4, 2013) – The Rutgers women’s basketball team closed out the 2012-13 regular season with a 65-44 win over Pittsburgh Monday night at the RAC to secure the No. 9 seed at this weekend’s BIG EAST Tournament.
Rutgers, who improves to 16-13 overall and 7-9 in BIG EAST play, will play No. 8 USF on Saturday in the second round of the 2013 BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Championship. Pittsburgh dropped to 9-20 on the year and finished out winless in conference competition at 0-16.
After the Panthers took an early four-point lead, the Scarlet Knights used a 13-4 run midway through the first half to take control of the game. Pittsburgh’s Loliya Briggs drained a three to give her Panthers a 11-7 edge at the 15:19 mark, but from there it was all Rutgers as the Scarlet Knight run gave RU the lead for good. Freshman Kahleah Copper (Philadelphia, Pa.) registered back-to-back buckets to tie the game and three plays later senior Monique Oliver (Las Vegas, Nev.) completed the traditional three-point play for a lead Rutgers would never relinquish.
A pair of free throws by Shakena Richardson (Neptune, N.J.) cemented a double-digit lead for the Scarlet Knights with 4:10 remaining in the first half. Rutgers would go up by as many as 15 late in the opening stanza and entered the intermission sporting a 36-22 lead.
Pittsburgh got no closer than 10 points in the second half on a Marquel Davis lay-up as her team trailed 44-34 with 11:56 remaining. Rutgers followed by outscoring the Panthers, 13-4, to take a 19-point 57-38 lead with 5:20 left in the game. Over the game’s final three and a half minutes, the Scarlet Knights outscored Pittsburgh, 8-2, for the contest’s final 21-point Scarlet Knight margin of victory.
Senior Erica Wheeler (Miami, Fla.), who was one of four Scarlet Knights honored on senior night, along with Richardson captured a game-high 15 points. Richardson set a new-career high in going 5-of-6 from the field and 5-of-6 from the line. Sophomore Betnijah Laney (Clayton, Del.) added 10 points and a game-high eight rebounds in the victory.
Pittsburgh was led by Brianna Kiesel’s 14 points. Briggs netted 11 in the loss, while Davis contributed 10 points and seven boards.
The Rutgers women’s basketball team returns to action on Saturday, March against USF in the second round of BIG EAST Tournament action at 2 p.m. The game will air on BIG EAST television. Check your local listings.
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