TAMPA, Fla. (December 28, 2013) – The Rutgers women’s basketball team opened up its first and only season in American Athletic Conference (AAC) play with a 66-53 win over USF on Saturday night at the Sun Dome.
The Scarlet Knights avenged last season’s BIG EAST Tournament loss to the Bulls by winning their sixth straight to improve to 10-2 overall. USF, meanwhile, fell to 5-7 overall.
Junior forward Betnijah Laney (Clayton, Del.) registered her seventh double-double of the year and fifth straight leading the Scarlet Knights with 18 points, 13 rebounds and five assists. Freshman guard Tyler Scaife (Little Rock, Ark.) notched 14 points in the win.
Rutgers broke open the game on a 21-0 run in the first half and held USF to only one field goal in the final 10:14 of the opening stanza.
An Akila McDonald jumper at the 10:14 mark had USF trailing just 14-12, but from there, the Bulls would not score again until 1:46 was left until the intermission and did not connect on another field goal until 15 seconds prior to the half. Rutgers proceeded to score at will until Tamara Taylor stopped the scoring drought for the Bulls on free throws.
The run was fueled by seven of Scaife’s 10 first half points along with six of Betnijah Laney’s game-high 13 rebounds. Two of Scaife’s free throws gave RU its largest lead of the night, 39-14, with 1:10 left in the opening half.
The Bulls would get no closer than 14 in the second half. A Courtney Williams three-pointer for USF saw RU’s lead drop to 47-33 with 12:14 remaining in the game and Inga Orekhova saw her Bulls squad close the gap to 51-37 with 9:20 left.
Rutgers used an 8-0 surge for a 23-point lead with 3:54 left off a bucket from junior Christa Evans (Jackson, N.J.) for its largest advantage of the second half.
Ariadna Pujol came off the bench for 17 points in the loss for USF. Courtney Williams added 10 points and seven boards in the loss.
Rutgers returns home to kick 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.
- Rutgers improved to 10-2 overall and 1-0 in conference play.
- The Scarlet Knights have scored 60 or more points in 11 of its 12 games this season.
- The starting lineup of Rachel Hollivay, Kahleah Copper, Tyler Scaife, Syessence Davis and Betnijah Laney was used for the fourth time this season. That starting five is 4-0.
- The Scarlet Knights have won six straight, tying for longest win streak since winning six games spanning Dec. 18, 2011 – Jan 14, 2012.
- RU improved to 4-2 away from the RAC this season – 3-1 in away games and 1-1 in neutral site contests.
- It was only the second game this season, RU has had two or fewer Scarlet Knights score in double figures.
- Kahleah Copper was held to a67.3eason-low nine points snapping a streak of 11 consecutive games in double figures. She entered Saturday’s game having tied Epiphanny Prince’s mark of 11-straight double-digit scoring efforts to start the 2006-07 season. Copper went to the line with eight points with 36 seconds remaining but hit only one of two from the charity stripe to stop the streak.
- Copper made her first attempt from the field for the 11th time in 12 games this season. She leads RU with a 58.6 percent shooting clip.
- Betnijah Laney collected her seventh double-double of the season and fifth straight with 18 points and 13 rebounds. 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.
- Laney’s 13 rebounds ties her career-high. She also hauled in 13 boards in RU’s win at Northeastern (Nov. 14). 11 of her 13 boards were on the defensive glass.
- Freshman Tyler Scaife scored in double figures for the sixth straight game and ninth time overall this season.
- USF’s 19 first half ties for fewest points by an RU opponent at the half. Wagner scored just 19 points at the intermission as the Scarlet Knights held a 47-19 advantage at the half (Dec. 12).
- USF’s six first half field goals tied an opponent low for Rutgers. LaSalle also had six field goals in its 59-57 loss to RU (Nov. 17).
- RU has held opponents to less than 10 made field goals in the first half in 10 of its 12 games this season. UMass (Nov. 20) and Georgia (Dec. 21) both had 11 first half field goals against the Scarlet Knights.
- Junior Christa Evans recorded two blocks in back-to-back contests for the third time this season.
- Junior Syessence Davis had four steals on Saturday, marking the eight straight game with three or more steals.
- Sophomore Precious Person hit a career-high three shots from downtown. Her previous high was two against UMass (Nov. 20). She finished the game 3-of-4 from three-point range.
- As a team, Rutgers handed out 20 assists. The Scarlet Knights also recorded 20 assists against Wagner (Dec. 12) and Sacred Heart (Dec. 15). Syessence Davis (7), Briyona Canty (5) and Betnijah Laney (5) combined for 17 of the 20 assists.
- Junior Syessence Davis dished the ball out seven times to tie her season-high. She also had seven against Howard (Nov. 22). Davis has had five or more assists in the last four straight games averaging 5.5 in that span.
- Rutgers committed only 10 turnovers marking the third game this season with 10 or fewer miscues.
- Both Betnijah Laney and Briyona Canty captured five assists with no turnovers in Saturday’s win over USF.
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