• Sunday’s game kicks off the 2013-14 campaign and is the first of 15 home games at the RAC this season.
• Fans in attendance can take home a free 2013-14 team schedule poster.
• Sunday’s contest will air on WCTC 1450 AM with Ed Cohen and Danny Breslauer on the call. Additionally, RU’s student station – WRSU 88.7 FM – will also air all Sunday’s action.
• Head coach C. Vivian Stringer begins her 19th season "on the banks" and 43rd season overall.
• The Scarlet Knights are coming off a 16-14 record from a year ago, which included a 13-2 mark at home.
• RU returns eight letterwinners and two starters – Betnijah Laney and Syessence Davis - from last season along with a trio of newcomers.
• Rutgers begins its first and only season in the American Athletic Association. The Scarlet Knights joins the Big Ten next season.
The Princeton Tigers have won the last four straight Ivy League titles and have been picked to win a fifth according the to the Ivy League Preseason Media Poll.
Princeton finished last season at 22-7 overall and 13-1 in the Ivy. In the NCAA Tournament, the Tigers fell 60-44 to Florida State in the first round. Their lone league blemish was a 58-55 setback at Harvard on March 1, 2013, a game which saw an 11-game win streak halted for the Tigers.
The Tigers lost three student-athletes to graduation – including two-time Ivy League Player of the Year Niveen Rasheed – but return 11 letterwinners to the hardwood. Among the returnees are All-Ivy senior Kristen Helmstetter and junior point guard Blake Dietrick. Helmstetter averaged 8.8 points and 5.1 rebounds last season and started in 24 of Princeton’s 29 game slate. Dietrick, meanwhile, poured in 8.0 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game.
Princeton is led by Courtney Banghart in her seventh season on the sidelines.
ALL-TIME SERIES WITH PRINCETON
Sunday marks the 18th meeting between the Jersey rivals with the Scarlet Knights holding a 15-2 series lead. RU had won the last 14 consecutive meetings with the Tigers prior to last season’s 71-55 loss at Jadwin Gymnasium. It was the Scarlet Knights first loss to Princeton since 1976.
LAST TIME VS. PRINCETON
The Rutgers women’s basketball team had its three-game win streak come to a halt with a 71-55 loss at Princeton last November 29th at Jadwin Gym. The Tigers led wire-to-wire opening the game with a 7-4 lead and never looked back.
The Scarlet Knights trailed by as many as 19 in the first half as the Tigers led 30-11 with just under six minutes left until the half. Former Scarlet Knight Monique Oliver followed by muscling her way to the basket on back-to-back trips down the court and Betnijah Laney got her hands on the ball for a steal leading to an open lay-up for Erica Wheeler for a small 6-0 RU run to cut their deficit to 13. However, Rutgers went into the locker room trailing Princeton, 38-22.
The Tigers extended their lead to 25, 51-26, with 13:33 left in the game. Rutgers pulled to within 12 late in the game thanks in part to 10 Tigers turnovers leading to nine Scarlet Knight points.
RU was led by Oliver with 12 points and six rebounds. She also swatted away a trio of Tiger shots to take over fifth place on the Rutgers all-time blocks leaders list. Wheeler added in nine points and a season-high five steals.
Princeton’s Alex Wheatley came off the bench to lead all scorers with 17 points. Preseason Ivy League Player of the Year Niveen Rasheed has 15 in the win and Kristen Helmstetter was the third Tiger in double digits with 14 points.
SEASON OPENING NUMBERS
Rutgers is 26-13 all-time in season openers and 9-9 in openers under head coach C. Vivian Stringer. RU is 33-6 all-time in its first home game of the season, including a 14-4 mark under C. Vivian Stringer.
WELCOME TO THE CLUB
Head coach C. Vivian Stringer became 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 in a 68-56 win over USF on Feb. 16, 2013.
Other Division I coaches who have reached the 900-career victory mark include Tennessee’s Pat Summit, Texas’ Jody Conradt along with Mike Krzyzewski and Bob Knight in men’s hoops.
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 135-21 at the RAC since the 2002-03 season. The Scarlet Knights went 13-2 at the RAC last season, including a victory over #21/22 Miami.
AND YOUTH SHALL LEAD YOU
On the 2012-13 season, first- and second-year Scarlet Knights accounted for 65.0% of the playing time on the season.
Of the five sophomores on last year’s roster, RU was led by Betnijah Laney who averaged a team-third best 9.7 points and a team-leading 5.0 rebounds per game. She stepped up in BIG EAST action where she averaged 11.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game.
Of last year’s freshman class, Kahleah Copper, who was named to the All-BIG EAST Freshman Team, led the RU rookies in points (5.1), rebounds (3.5), and minutes (16.5). Additionally, she garnered five starts.
The Scarlet Knights boast no seniors on the 2012-13 roster.
WELCOME TO RU
Three newcomers are featured on the 2013-14 roster.
F, Jr.-R, 5-11, Bainbridge, Ga./Bainbridge (transfer from Illinois – sat out 12-13 season)
Burke appeared in 61 games during her two seasons at the University of Illinois. The 5-11 forward played in all 30 games and earned a career-best 12 starts last season. She averaged 6.9 points and 2.9 rebounds in 17.9 minutes per game. Burke also collected 12 assists, 12 blocks and 18 steals on the year. She had a breakout game against Clemson, setting a career-high with 26 points in only 20 minutes of action in a 61-50 Illinois win. Burke received the team’s Most Improved Award following her sophomore campaign. She was ranked No. 50 nationally and the 11th-best small forward by ESPNU HoopGurlz, following her scholastic career at Bainbridge High School. She was named Georgia Class 4A Player of the Year, first team All-State and Region Player of the Year, leading her squad to a 25-4 record as a senior.
G, Fr., 5-9, Little Rock, Ark./Hall
Two-time Arkansas Girls Basketball Player of the Year, Scaife enters her freshman year at Rutgers this fall ranked as the top overall point guard in the nation and ninth-rated recruit overall by ESPNU HoopGulrz. Scaife was also selected to tryout for the U19 USA Basketball U19 Championship Team. She was named the MVP of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBAC) High School All-America Game and also participated in the McDonald’s All-American Girls’ Game. The 5-9 guard led the Hall High School Warriors to a 30-2 record and the Class 6A state championship as a senior this past year. Averaging 23.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 3.1 steals per game. A four-time all-state selection, she was named MVP of the state title game. As a junior, Scaife averaged 25.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 3.7 steals per game as she helped her Warriors to a 23-6 record and the Class 7A semifinals as a junior.
G, Fr., 5-8, Atlantic Highlands, N.J./Red Bank Catholic
Alfano averaged 10.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for head coach Joe Montano at Red Bank Catholic. She helped her teams to four Shore Conference Division championships and was selected to play in the Shore Conference All-Star Game. As a senior, she helped the Caseys to a 29-2 overall record, the Non-Public-A State Championship and semifinal round of the Tournament of Champions. Among her scholastic accolades, Alfano was named Honorable Mention All-New Jersey by MSG Varsity, a Central All-Division honoree and earned Non-Public A honors. She also garnered MVP of the Hoop Group Boardwalk Classic. Alfano also lettered as a freshman and sophomore as a member of the Red Bank Catholic cross country team.
AMERICAN PRESEASON POLL
The Rutgers women’s basketball team was picked fourth in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) Preseason Poll, announced at the conference’s media day at Mohegan Sun, site of this year’s conference championship.
1. Connecticut (9) 81
2. Louisville (1) 73
3. USF 59
4. Rutgers 57
5. SMU 50
6. Memphis 32
7. Cincinnati 30
8. UCF 28
9. Temple 25
10. Houston 15
She hasn’t played in the Rutgers uniform yet, but freshman point guard Tyler Scaife has already picked up a pretty big honor. The freshman was named the American Athletic Conference’s Preseason Freshman of the Year.
Betnijah Laney, RU’s returning leading scorer and rebounder, was a Preseason Honorable Mention All-AAC selection.
Laney earned weekly conference honors last she when she was named to the BIG EAST honor roll on Feb. 4 last season after helping the Rutgers women’s basketball team to a 2-0 mark with wins at Marquette (72-54) and against Villanova (58-50) in overtime by averaging 13.5 points and 5.0 rebounds in the two contests. In the win at Marquette, Laney poured in 15 points and shot 5-of-6 from the free throw line. In the overtime win vs. Villanova, Laney scored eight of her 12 points in overtime helping RU overcome an eight-point second half deficit to pull out the win over the Wildcats. Laney scored the first six points in overtime as Rutgers outscored Villanova, 12-4, in the extra stanza and held the Wildcats without a field goal
FIGHTING THE INJURY BUG
The Scarlet Knights lost the services of guard Briyona Canty to knee surgery at the end of December, but is a full go for the upcoming 2012-13 campaign. Canty was hindered by the knee injury in her seven appearances before being sidelined. However, after spending the winter and summer rehabbing, the Scarlet Knight is ready to return. As a freshman she showed flashes of what she can bring to the court with 2.9 points and 3.4 rebounds along with 31 steals. In her brief sophomore season, Canty averaged 1.1 points and 1.3 rebounds per appearance.
Syessence Davis’s 10 assists against Providence on Jan. 16, 2013 set a career and season high for the junior. It also marks the most assists by a Scarlet Knight since Khadijah Rushdan notched 10 against Pitt Feb. 8, 2011.
FROM OFF THE BENCH AND INTO THE STARTING FIVE
Freshman guard Kahleah Copper was a member on the starting line-up four times last season, including three of the last five contests of the year.
During her third foray into the RU starting line-up on Jan. 16 against Providence, Copper ended the game with a career-high 14 points going a perfect 6-of-6 from the floor and 4-of-4 from the line.
Copper made her RAC debut on Nov. 14 with 10 points and six rebounds in Rutgers’ 56-52 win over George Washington.
She was the first member of last year’s freshman class to be among the starting five, making her first career start at Princeton on Nov. 29. Copper was also among the starters in RU’s final nonconference contest against La Salle on Jan. 2.
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