PISCATAWAY, N.J. (December 24, 2013) – The Rutgers women’s basketball team kicks off its first and only season in the American Athletic Conference on Saturday traveling to USF for a 7 p.m. start. Live video of the contest will be available on the American Digital Network.
• Saturday’s American Athletic Conference-opener with USF tips off at 7 p.m. Live video will be available via Live video available on the American Digital Network with Bernie Guenther and Sylvia Crawley on the call. Additionally, WRSU, the Rutgers student station at 88.7 FM, will be at the Sun Dome to provide all the action. The AAC Digital Network is available at www.TheAmerican.org/watch/.
• Rutgers enters the contest at 9-2 overall after defeating #16/15 Georgia, 61-58. Three Scarlet Knights scored in double figures, as Rutgers pulled to 1-1 vs Top 25 opponents this season.
• Sophomore forward Kahleah Copper leads RU in scoring and field goal percentage. She is fifth in the American with 16.3 points per game and leads the league in field goal percentage (60.2 percent).
• Junior Betnijah Laney has notched four straight double-doubles, averaging 12.6 points and 10.2 rebounds per game this season. Her rebound average is second-best in the American.
• Sophomore Rachel Hollivay enters the match-up fifth in the nation in blocks per game (3.6). That figure is good for tops in the American.
The Bulls welcome Rutgers to Tampa, Fla., with a 5-6 overall record looking to snap a three-game losing skid. USF most recently fell on the road, 71-64, to the College of Charleston on Dec. 21, while its first defeat of the losing streak came at the hands of No. 11/13 Oklahoma State on Dec. 14 by a 75-56 margin.
Two Bulls boast double figure scoring averages, including Courtney Williams and Tamara Taylor. Williams is averaging 15.6 points per contest, good for eighth in the league, while Taylor averages 12.1 points per game. Taylor has converted the fourth-most 3-pointers in the American this season, averaging 2.0 long balls per game.
Williams has been lights out from the free throw line, shooting 86 percent from the charity stripe. That percentage is the second-best mark in the American Athletic Conference. Williams, a 5-foot-8 guard, did not attempt a single free throw in the Bulls’ last contest, instead going 10-of-19 from the floor for 20 points.
Alisia Jenkins is just shy of a averaging a double-double, hauling in 11.0 rebounds per game to go with 9.8 points per game. The sophomore spearheads the No. 3 rebounding squad in the American, as the Bulls own a +9.8 rebounding margin. USF is the best on the offensive glass with 18.8 offensive rebounds per game.
Jenkins and RU junior Betnijah Laney are 1-2 in rebounding in the conference this season, with Jenkins holding a .08 advantage on the glass.
ALL-TIME SERIES WITH USF
The Scarlet Knights are 7-2 all-time against the Bulls, falling last season in the BIG EAST Tournament, 42-39. The Bulls, who advanced to play top-seeded Notre Dame in the tournament quarterfinals, improved to 21-9 overall and avenged the 68-56 regular season loss RU handed USF on Feb. 26, 2013.
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.
Prior to RU’s loss against USF in the conference tournament last season, the Scarlet Knights had won four straight by an average margin of +8.0.
RUTGERS ALL-TIME IN CONFERENCE GAMES
Prior to the American, the Scarlet Knights were 201-94 (.681) all-time in BIG EAST regular season games. Rutgers was 85-63 (.574) all-time in BIG EAST regular season road games. Conversely, the Scarlet Knights were 116-31 (.789) in conference home games.
RUTGERS IN CONFERENCE OPENERS
Rutgers went 12-6 in BIG EAST openers prior to joining the American. The Scarlet Knights have won seven of their last ten conference openers. RU fell, 44-48, in last year’s BIG EAST opener against St. John’s at the RAC.
Rutgers had previously won three straight conference openers including a 60-57 win over DePaul in 2009-10, a 70-53 upset against No. 11/12 Georgetown during the 2010-11 campaign and downing Syracuse, 55-44, in 2011-12.
RUTGERS VS. THE TOP-25
Rutgers is currently 1-1 against the Top 25 in 2013-14.
Nov. 29 – vs. #15/17 LSU L, 65-69
Dec. 21 – vs. #16/15 Georgia W, 61-58
BATTLE ON THE BOARDS
USF sophomore Alisia Jenkins and RU junior Betnijah Laney are first and second, respectively, in the American Athletic Conference on the glass. Jenkins averages 11.0 rebounds per game, while Laney averages 10.2 boards per contest.
LIVING IN THE PAINT
On the season, Rutgers is averaging 35.7 points in the paint. RU has scored 30 or more points in the paint in each of its last seven games and nine times this season. The team won the points in the paint battle in nine of 11 games, and is 8-1 in those contests.
Junior forward Betnijah Laney, a two-time member of the AAC Honor Roll, has registered four consecutive double-doubles and is averaging 16.0 points and 11.0 rebounds in the last four Scarlet Knight outings.
The double-double streak is the longest for an RU player in the last 10 years, while her total is half of Kia Vaughn’s 12 double-doubles in the 2006-07 season. That double-double mark is the most in the last 10 seasons.
In the last three games, Laney has combined to go 21-of-33 for 64 percent from the floor. To date, Laney has registered double figures in all but two appearances and has collected six double-doubles.
ESSY ON THE D-FENSE
Junior guard Syessence Davis has proved to be invaluable on defense this season. Against Georgia on Saturday, Davis recorded three steals, her seventh consecutive game of three or more thefts.
Davis recorded a career-high seven steals against Wagner on Dec. 12, surpassing her previous best effort of five which was captured on four occasions, most recently at Davidson (Dec. 4). In the last four games,
Davis has averaged 4.5 steals per game and currently ranks second in the American in the category.
THE WILL TO SCORE
Rutgers has had three or more Scarlet Knights reach double figures in 10 of the first 11 games of the 2013-14 season.
Sophomore forward Kahleah Copper has reached double figures in each of the 11 games played to date. Copper is the first Scarlet Knights since Epiphanny Prince in the 2006-07 season to start the year off with 11 straight double figure performances. Prince kicked off the 2006-07 national championship game season running away with 11 straight double figure contests. Copper notched 18 points on 7-of-11 shooting against Georgia to continue the streak.
Other notable scoring performances from the Scarlet Knights’ win were junior Betnijah Laney’s 18-point showing and freshman Tyler Scaife’s 10 points.
Since suffering a concussion at Northeastern on Nov. 13 and returning to the court at UMass on Nov. 20, sophomore center Rachel Hollivay is averaging 4.1 blocks per game. She has notched a minimum of three blocks in six of the last eight games.
Against Howard, Hollivay swatted away nine Bison shots, the most since Kia Vaughn captured nine blocks against St. John’s back on Feb. 28, 2009.
RU forced Georgia into 23 turnovers in its victory over the Bulldogs, as RU has now forced nine of its 11 opponents this season into 20+ miscues.
The Scarlet Knights forced eight straight opponents into at least 20 turnovers after Princeton suffered just 16 on opening night. The stingy defensive streak was the team’s longest such streak in the last 10 years.
The Scarlet Knights have posted 12 or fewer miscues in three of the last five games. Rutgers has committed fewer than 20 turnovers in eight of its 11 games to date.
Rutgers kicks off the American Athletic Conference home slate with Houston on Saturday, Jan. 4 with Military Appreciation Day and the Amazing Christopher at halftime. All active and retired military personnel with ID can purchase a $10.00 reserved or $5.00 general admission ticket to RU’s first AAC game of the year. The Amazing Christopher will perform at halftime and is widely recognized for his original and unique blend of puppetry and dance which has appeared on “The Tonight Show” with Jay Leno and “The American Comedy Awards.” His act has appeared at halftime of NBA and NCAA games for over the past 20 years. Also, the first 1,000 fans can pick up a USA Block R magnet.
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