HARTFORD, Conn. (March 9, 2013) – No. 8 USF fended off the upset as they defeated the No. 9 Rutgers women’s basketball team, 42-39, in the second round of the 2013 BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Tournament on Saturday afternoon at the XL Center.
The loss dropped the Scarlet Knights to 16-14 overall. The Bulls, who advance to play top-seeded Notre Dame on Sunday at 2 p.m. in the tournament quarterfinals, improved to 21-9 overall and avenged the 68-56 regular season loss.
Rutgers led by five, 39-34, with 4:49 left to play. However, senior Monique Oliver’s (Las Vegas, Nev.) lay-up would be the last points the Scarlet Knights would score. USF went to the line 10 times during those final minutes and sunk eight of those attempts for the victory.
USF’s Andrea Smith put her team ahead, 40-39 with 1:19 left in the game on a free throw. After missing the second attempt, the Bulls had two looks at the basket but were unable to convert giving Rutgers possession with :23 left. The Scarlet Knights had a chance for the lead, but turned the ball over leaving RU to foul and sending USF back to the line to add another two points to the score and only two seconds left for Rutgers to get off a shot on the ensuing possession.
Oliver came off the bench as the only Scarlet Knight in double figures with 15. Senior Erica Wheeler (Miami, Fla.) added nine, while sophomore Betnijah Laney (Clayton, Del.) had six points and nine rebounds. Only four Bulls scored in the win led by Smith with 17 and Inga Orekhova with 12. Eleven of Orekhova’s points came in the second half.
The first 10 minutes of the opening half saw the Scarlet Knights dominate. Smith notched USF’s first points of the game, but her team was held scoreless for nearly nine minutes as the Scarlet Knights established a 14-3 lead midway through. USF missed its first eight shots from three-point range.
The last 10 minutes of the first half, however, saw USF find its shot. The Bulls used a 12-2 run over the first half’s final seven minute as the Scarlet Knights clung to a 19-18 halftime edge.
Tied at 23-23 in the early moments of the second half, Rutgers produced seven unanswered points to go ahead, 30-23, with 13:43 remaining. Three-point shooting saw the Bulls creep back to within one, 35-34, five minutes later. Orekhova had the chance to tie the game by converting a four-point play, but missed as RU responded with a 5-0 run. Oliver capped the run on RU’s final points of the game with 4:49 to go.
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ALL-TIME VS. USF:
Rutgers falls to 8-2 in the all-time series with the Bulls. It was the first time the two squads faced each other in the BIG EAST Tournament.
IN TOURNAMENT ACTION:
Rutgers dropped to 23-17 all-time in the BIG EAS Tournament. It was their first loss in second round action.
Senior Monique Oliver notched double figures for the 14th time this season and 59th time in her career. She also led the Scarlet Knights in scoring for the 11th time this year and 28th time in her career.
Oliver’s 15 points gives her 1,204 career points, just five points shy of tying Patty Coyle (1978-82) for 23rd on the all-time scoring leaders list.
With her six attempts from beyond the arc, Erica Wheeler moved into third all-time on the RU three-point field goals attempts list surpassing former teammate Brittany Ray (2006-10). Wheeler currently has 200 three-point attempts in her four-year career. A
Additionally, the six attempts move her into a tie for second on the single season three-point field goals attempted list with 178 attempted treys. She shares second place with former teammate April Sykes who also had 178 three-point attempts as a junior.
With her appearance in the second round of the BIG EAST Tournament, Erica Wheeler moved into a tie for ninth all-time in career games played. She has checked into a game as a Scarlet Knight 129 times.