PISCATAWAY, N.J. (February 5, 2014) – The Rutgers women’s basketball team heads to Texas for its next two games and opens the road trip meeting SMU on Saturday at 3 p.m. (EST) at Moody Coliseum.
• Saturday’s American Athletic Conference matchup with SMU tips off at 3 p.m. (EST) at the Moody Coliseum. Rutgers student radio, WRSU, will also be in attendance to cover all the action live.
• Rutgers enters the contest at 17-5 overall and 8-3 in the American after earning its second win of the season against Cincinnati. The Scarlet Knights had three players score in double figures in the win, led by freshman Tyler Scaife with 18 points.
• Freshman guard Tyler Scaife was named the American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Week for the third time in 2014 after averaging 19.0 points on 59.3 percent shooting and dishing out an average 4.5 assists in RU’s 1-1 stretch last week.
• Sophomore forward Kahleah Copper leads RU in scoring and field goal percentage. She is sixth in the American with 15.6 points per game and second in the league and 14th nationally in field goal percentage (57.3 percent). She has led RU in scoring 11 times in 22 games.
• Junior Betnijah Laney is averaging just shy of a double-double with 12.8 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. She has scored in double figures 14 times in 20 games played, recording 11 double-doubles in that span.
• Sophomore Rachel Hollivay enters the matchup ninth nationally in blocks per game (3.4). That figure is tops in the American.
The Mustangs enter the matchup after losing, 102-41, at No. 1/1 UConn their last time out on Feb. 4. The scoring output was the lowest of the season for SMU, which was previously on a three-game winning streak.
Keena Mays leads SMU’s No. 3 ranked American offense, as the senior guard averages 20.1 points per game to lead the league. Mays has done much of her damage from beyond the arc this season, shooting 36.6 percent – fourth in the American – and converting 53 3-pointers – the second-best mark in the league. She has also proven to be a dual threat, shooting 76.6 percent (95-of124) from the free throw line.
Behind Mays is Akil Simpson, whose 13.8 points per game is eighth in the conference. Destynee Hives-McCray is the only other Mustang averaging double digit points with 11.0 points per contest.
ALL-TIME SERIES WITH SMU
The Rutgers women’s basketball team’s extended its season-best winning streak nine straight when the Scarlet Knights defeated SMU, 64-54, on Jan. 11 at the RAC in the first ever meeting between the two squads.
The game was tied at 13-13 in early action before freshman Tyler Scaife tore down the court to put the Scarlet Knights ahead for the remainder of the first half. Scaife would go on to register 12 of her team-high 16 points in the opening half.
Rutgers led by as many as four late in the first half and held only a two-point lead heading into the locker room at the half. The Scarlet Knights owned a 29-27 edge, as SMU’s leading scorer Keena Mays connected on a jumper from the free throw line at the horn.
The Mustangs’ Raven Short tied the game up at 29-29 moments into the second half, but Rutgers proceeded to take a 7-0 run for a 36-31 edge with 15:10 remaining. Over the next two minutes, SMU responded, holding the Scarlet Knights scoreless while rattling off back-to-back 3-pointers to regain the lead. Mays, followed with a shot from Mallory Single-ton from the top of the arc, putting SMU up, 37-36, with 13:26 left to play.
While both teams struggled to put the ball in the basket for the next three and a half minutes, it would be Rutgers that broke the drought. Sophomore Briyona Canty, who came off the bench for 12 points in the win, drilled two shots from the free throw line, returning the lead to RU for good. RU held Mays to just 15 points on 27.7 percent shooting in the first meeting between the two schools, five points off her season average.
BESTING LAST SEASON
With its 58-53 win over Cincinnati on Tuesday night, Rutgers collected it’s 17th victory of the 2013-14 campaign, surpassing last season’s win total. Last season, the Scarlet Knights concluded the year at 16-14 overall. RU still has seven games left on the schedule including Saturday’s game with SMU.
MILESTONE COACHING ALERT
Head coach C. Vivian Stringer is approaching another milestone in her career. Stringer is approaching her 400th career victory “On The Banks”, needing two more victories to accomplish the feat.
All-Time Rutgers WBB Coaching Records (By Wins)
Theresa Grentz - 434-150/ (1977-95) 19 seasons
C. Vivian Stringer - 398-202/(1995-present) 19 seasons
Ellen Johns - 6-5/(1974-75) One season
Dottie McCrea - 5-9/(1975-76) One season
After blocking six shots against Cincinnati (Feb. 4), 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.
With five more blocks, Hollivay will pass Tanya Hansen’s 75 (1990-91) and LaTonya Johnson’s 74 (1991-92) blocks, moving into fourth on RU’s single-season list.
Hollivay is 26 blocks shy of tying former great Sue Wicks’ single-season record of 97 blocks, set during the 1986-87 season. If the Columbus, Miss., native averages 3.7 rejections per contest over the final seven regular season games, she will break the record.
Freshman Tyler Scaife has been dishing and swishing over the last three contests, averaging 18.7 points and 4.7 assists per game. The rookie has scored in double figures and recorded at least four assists in five of the last seven games, including her career-high with six-assist, 21-point outing against Memphis (Jan. 14).
The Rutgers women’s basketball team will remain in Texas heading over to Houston to meet the Cougars on Tuesday, Feb. 8. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. (EST).
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