PISCATAWAY, N.J. (February 4, 2014) – The Rutgers women’s basketball team hung on to defeat Cincinnati, 58-53, on Tuesday night at the RAC to close out a three-game homestand and season series with the Bearcats.
Rutgers improved to 17-5 overall, surpassing last year’s win total, and 8-3 in the American Athletic Conference. Cincinnati meanwhile fell to 9-13 overall and 2-9 in the conference.
The Scarlet Knights finished with three players in double-digits, led by freshman guard Tyler Scaife (Little Rock, Ark.) with 18 points. Scaife also recorded five assists and three steals. Sophomore guard Kahleah Copper (Philadelphia, Pa.) came off the bench, rebounding from her two-point afternoon against Memphis, with 14 points. Junior forward Betnijah Laney (Clayton, Del.) finished with 10 points and a team-leading eight rebounds.
The Bearcats managed to whittle down what had been an eight-point Rutgers lead with just over three minutes remaining, cutting the lead down to two in the final minute of action. RU held a 55-47 lead before Cincinnati scored five unanswered points, capped by Chelsea Jaminson going to the hole with 1:11 left to cut the deficit to 55-53. After Scaife missed a jumper on the next RU possession, Cincinnati regained the ball with 39 seconds left. As the Bearcats, who had buried seven shots from long range, were looking for the 3-pointer to go ahead, Jamison sent a pass out of bounds, giving Rutgers a chance to pad its slim lead.
Sophomore center Rachel Hollivay (Columbus, Miss.) ended up at the free throw line, hitting 1-of-2, but the Bearcats’ Jeanise Randolph hauled in the rebound off the missed free throw giving Cincinnati a chance of sending the game into overtime.
Alyesha Lovett threw up a 3-point attempt with two seconds left, but junior guard Syessence Davis (Neptune, N.J.) grabbed a hold of the missed shot. Promptly fouled, Davis went to the charity stripe and hit both her attempts for the final 58-53 margin.
Cincinnati held a brief lead in the first half, but saw it erased by the nine-minute mark. Trailing by five, 14-9, RU took a 7-0 run that included Scaife draining a 3-pointer from the top of the arc to give the Scarlet Knights the lead for good. Scaife’s 3-pointer, part of her 13 first half points, gave RU a 16-14 advantage with 8:49 left in the half, which the Scarlet Knights were able to extend into a nine-point, 27-18 halftime edge.
The Bearcats closed to within one, 27-26, within the first three minute of the second half, but the Scarlet Knights responded by netting six answered points on its next three trips down the court to go ahead, 33-26, with 15:17 left in the game.
A trio of 3-pointers kept Cincinnati in the game as they closed the gap to within two, 39-37, near the midway point of the second half. Copper, who had gone just 1-of-6 in the previous game against Memphis, scored the next four Rutgers baskets as her Scarlet Knights outscored the Bearcats, 13-5, over the next six minutes, taking a 52-44 lead with 4:55 remaining and setting the scene for the dramatic final minutes.
Cincinnati’s Jasmine Whitfield, responsible for four of the Bearcat’s seven 3-pointers, finished the game with a team-high 16 points. Alyesha Lovett added in 12 points in the loss, while Randolph contributed a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Rutgers women’s basketball team heads to the Lonestar State for games with SMU and Houston. The Scarlet Knights meet the Mustangs on Saturday, Feb. 8 and Cougars on Tuesday, Feb. 11.
• Rutgers won its second straight game by topping Cincinnati, 58-53, at the RAC. The Scarlet Knights improved to 17-5 overall and 8-3 in the American. The Scarlet Knights are now 10-2 at the RAC this season and 145-23 in Piscataway since the 2002-03 season.
• With the win, the Scarlet Knights surpassed their 2012-13 win total of 16 games.
• The starting lineup of Rachel Hollivay, Briyona Canty, Tyler Scaife, Syessence Davis and Betnijah Laney was used for the first time this season. That starting five is now 1-0. It was Cooper’s first game coming off the bench this season.
• Rutgers has had three or more Scarlet Knights reach double figures in 16 of the first 22 games of the 2013-14 season.
• The Scarlet Knights finished with 15 turnovers (14) or fewer turnovers for the 12th time this season.
• Freshman Tyler Scaife led all players with 18 points in the contest and tied for a game-high five assists. She set a new career-high in three’s, going 2-of-3 from beyond the arc, while also tying her career-high with three steals. The rookie has notched double-digit points and at least four assists in each of the last three games.
• Sophomore Kahleah Copper rebounded from a 1-of-7 start by going 6-of-8 from the field in the second half, finishing with 14 points after notching just two points the last time out. She has scored in double figures in 18 of 22 games.
• Junior Betnijah Laney finished just shy of her 12th double-double with 10 points and eight rebounds. She started the game 0-of-4 but knocked down four of her next six attempts to end in double figures for the 14th time this season.
• The Scarlet Knights failed to score at least 60 points for just the second time this season. It was RU’s first time under 60 points in conference play this season.
• Sophomore Rachel Hollivay notched six blocks against the Bearcats, recording at least five for the sixth time this season. The total was her second-highest in 2013-14, as she has recorded a minimum of three blocks in 13 of the last 19 games.
• After blocking six shots, Hollivay moved up to sixth on the single-season list with 71. She passed former standout Kia Vaughn, who recorded 68 in the 2005-06 season.
• Hollivay grabbed six or more rebounds for the fifth consecutive game.
• The Scarlet Knights suffered just four turnovers in the first half, tying their season low set against Texas Tech (Nov. 30) and Wagner (Dec. 12).
• Scaife made her first three field goals to start the contest against Cincinnati, her second-best shooting effort to start a game this season. Against Texas Tech on Nov. 30,, Scaife knocked down her first four attempts from the field.
• Scaife recorded 13 of her 18 points in the first half, tying the third-highest scoring total in any half of her short career. Scaife notched 13 points in the first half against Wagner (Dec. 12), 14 points in the second half against Cincinnati (Jan. 7) and 15 points in the first half against UConn (Jan. 19). It was her eighth time scoring double-digit points in the first half.
• After heading into the half trailing Cincinnati, 18-22, on the boards, the Scarlet Knights bounced back to finish with a 34-33 advantage. RU out-rebounded Cincinnati, 16-11 in the second half.
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