MEMPHIS, Tenn. (January 14, 2014) – The No. 23 Rutgers women’s basketball team’s nine-game win streak came to a halt on Tuesday night at Elma Roane Fieldhouse with a 74-73 setback in overtime in the first ever meeting with Memphis.
The Tigers’ Asianna Fuqua-Bey hit two game-winning free throws with 1:04 left in the game, while the Scarlet Knights were unable to find the basket in the final minute of play. The Scarlet Knights attempted to capture the game winning bucket at the buzzer, but a costly turnover with only two seconds left sealed the win for Memphis.
RU led by as many as three in the overtime session.
Rutgers, who garnered no points from its bench, finished the game with three players in double figures. Sophomore forward Kahleah Copper (Philadelphia, Pa.) led the way with 23 points, including going a perfect 5-of-5 in the first half and 10-of-12 total. Freshman guard and reigning AAC Rookie of the Week Tyler Scaife (Little Rock, Ark.) poured in a career-high 21 points, while junior forward Betnijah Laney (Clayton, Del.) added 15 in the loss.
The loss dropped Rutgers to 13-3 overall and 4-1 in the American Athletic Conference. Memphis, meanwhile improved to 9-8 overall and 2-3 in the league play. It was the Tigers’ first Top 25 victory after having played nationally ranked Texas A&M and Connecticut earlier in the year.
The Scarlet Knights opened the game on an 11-2 run, including rattling off seven answered points during that span. Rutgers connected on its first eight field goals and led 17-8 at the 13:35 mark, but went cold during the next seven minutes, going 1-of-7. Memphis, meanwhile, was able to cut its deficit down to four, 19-15, with seven minutes left in the half.
A layup by Memphis’ Jasbrell Swaing layup saw Rutgers holding on to a 19-15 lead, however the Scarlet Knights responded with a Betnijah Laney jumper from the right wing and Kahleah Copper reaching double digit scoring on RU’s next two possessions for a 23-15 Rutgers edge.
The Tigers outscored the Scarlet Knights 6-1 in the next three minutes and closed the gap to within three, 6-23 with 3:23 to go in the first half. But Rutgers punched back, going on an 8-0 run and entered the locker room with a 36-27 advantage,
The Scarlet Knights extended its halftime advantage to as many as 11 early in the second half, but the Tigers continually chipped away at RU’s lead. Scaife put RU ahead, 51-45, with 8:36 left in regulation, but Memphis proceeded to go on a 6-1 run and turn what had once been a double digit Scarlet Knight lead down to one point, 52-51, with 6:18 left in the second half.
RU bounced back, like it had from each Tiger run prior, including six straight points from Copper, and went up 60-53 with 4:28 remaining. The Scarlet Knights were then held scoreless for the next two minutes as Memphis went on a 6-0 run and tied the game off a Ariel Hearn three-pointer at 60-60 with 2:35 on the clock.
Copper responded to briefly give Rutgers back the lead on the next possession but Pa’Sonna Hope completed the traditional three-point play on the other end for the Tigers’ first lead of the game.
Memphis’ Taylor Williams drained a three-pointer following a Scarlet Knight turnover to give the Tigers its largest lead of the night, 66-62, with 1:31 in regulation.
Scaife knocked down a pair of free throws to cut into the opponent lead as Rutgers trailed 66-64 with a minute to go.
Breigha Wilder-Cochran missed a chance to put the game away for the Tigers in regulation as sophomore center Rachel Hollivay (Columbus, Miss.) hauled in the defensive board to keep Rutgers in the game. Laney then connected on a jumper from the right wing with 15 seconds left to tie the game at 66-66.
Memphis headed down the court and after a Wilder-Cochran attempt was off its mark, the ball was tied up and the Tigers awarded possession on a jump ball with 0.1 seconds left. The game proceeded to head into overtime.
Memphis closed out the game with four players in double figures, led by Ariel Hearn with 18 points. Hope had 16 points, Breigha Wilder-Cochran contributed 12 points and Fuqua-Bey finished with 10 points, including the game-winning free throw.
The Scarlet Knights return home to meet No. 1 and defending national champion Connecticut on Sunday, Jan. 19 at 3 p.m. The game will be televised by ESPN2 with Pam Ward and Rebecca Lobo on the call. Drums of Thunder will be performing at halftime.
• Rutgers fell to 13-3 overall and 4-1 in conference play, as its nine-game win streak came to an end against Memphis.
• The win streak was the longest since RU captured 12 straight victories from Dec. 8, 2007 – Jan. 26, 2008. Additionally the streak had been tied for the seventh-best in the country this season.
• With the overtime loss, the Scarlet Knights fell to 21-16 all-time in extended play.
• The Scarlet Knights’ 24 turnovers tied the second-highest mark of the season.
• As a team, RU finished 13-of-22 from the free throw line for a 59.1 percentage. It was the first time the team shot below 60 percent from the charity stripe since its conference-opener against USF.
• Rutgers recorded a 54.5 field goal percentage in the contest, the second highest mark of the year and third time this season the team shot over 50 percent. The squad drops to 2-1 in those games.
• The starting lineup of Rachel Hollivay, Kahleah Copper, Tyler Scaife, Syessence Davis and Betnijah Laney was used for the seventh time this season. That starting five is 6-1, losing its first game together against the Tigers. Those five accounted for all 73 of RU’s points.
• Rutgers did not gain any scoring from its bench for the first time since losing, 49-34, to UConn on March 4, 2012 in the BIG EAST Tournament.
• The Scarlet Knights have scored 60 or more points in 15 of their 16 games this season. It was the fifth time this season RU notched at least 70 points.
• Sophomore Kahleah Copper (23) and freshman Tyler Scaife (21) led the Scarlet Knights in points. RU has had two players score at least 20 points in the same game twice this season.
• Scaife reset her career highs in scoring (21), rebounding (eight) and assists (six) while tying her career highs in blocks (one) and free throws made (five).
• Scaife notched a double-digit effort for the 12th time in 16 games, scoring 10 of her 21 points in the opening stanza.
• Copper’s 20-point effort was her fifth this season. She recorded the highest single-game field goal percentage of her career, going 10-of-12 from the field for an 83.3 percent clip.
• Laney scored in double figures (15) for the 11th time this season. She came just one rebound shy of her 10th double-double, finishing the game with nine boards.
• Rutgers scored 34 of its 73 points in the paint. RU has scored 30 or more point in the paint in 12 of its last 13 games and 14 times this season. The team has won the points in the paint battle in 13 of 16 games and is 12-1 in those contests.
• RU has had at least three players in double figures in 12 of 16 games this season.
• The Scarlet Knights recorded at least 20 assists as a team for fifth time this season.
• Sophomore Rachel Hollivay blocked four shots against the Tigers, the eighth time in 14 games this season she recorded at least three rejections.
• The Scarlet Knights lost their first game of the season when winning the battle on the glass, recording 44 rebounds to Memphis’s 39. RU fell to 11-1 this season when winning the rebounding battle.
• Sophomore Kahleah Copper made her first attempt from the field for the 15th time in 16 games this season, making her first five attempts from the field Tuesday night.
• Copper has reached double figure scoring in 14 of RU’s 16 games this season,
• Junior guard Syessence Davis dished out five assists Tuesday, her 10th game this season with at least five helpers.
• The Scarlet Knights converted their first eight attempts from the field, missing their first attempt at the 12:46 mark in the first half. The hot start allowed RU to build a 17-8 lead.
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