DALLAS, Texas (February 8, 2014) – It went to the replay and was ruled that sophomore center Rachel Hollivay’s (Columbus, Miss.) put back at the buzzer left her hands before the clock hit zero to lift the Rutgers women’s basketball team to a 65-64 victory over SMU in a thriller at Moody Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.
Hollivay finished with a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds to help improve RU to 18-5 overall and 9-3 in American Athletic Conference play. Classmate Kahleah Copper (Philadelphia, Pa.) finished with a team-high 20 points, with 14 points coming from second half action. Freshman guard Tyler Scaife (Little Rock, Ark.) added 10 points.
SMU, which led by as many as nine with two minutes remaining in the game, fell to 14-9 overall and 5-7 in the conference race. The Mustangs were coming off a 102-41 loss at UConn on Tuesday night.
Rutgers trailed 59-50 with two minutes left on the clock when Copper went on a 5-0 run of her own. The Scarlet Knights’ leading scorer hit two free throws and the “and one” to close RU’s gap to within four, but then fouled out of the game with 1:16 remaining.
SMU’s Akil Simpson went to the line after being fouled by Copper, but missed the front end of a one-and-one, with junior Betnijah Laney (Clayton, Del.) hauling in the rebound. On the other side of the court, Laney missed her 3-point attempt, but Hollivay stood her ground underneath for the tip-in, cutting the Rutgers deficit to 59-57 with 59 seconds to go.
On the following possession, Mustang and conference leading scorer Keena Mays went to the line. Connecting on her first free throw attempt, Mays missed the second, but it remained SMU ball as Simpson hauled in the board. With the ball back in Mays’ hands, she was promptly fouled and went back to the charity stripe where she hit both attempts this time around. Her free throws put the Mustangs up, 62-57, with 46 seconds left.
RU turned the ball over on its next possession, but SMU’s Korina Baker missed the lay-up on the other end, which ended up in the hands of redshirt sophomore Briyona Canty (Willingboro, NJ.). Canty fed the ball to Laney, who drained a three from the left wing as the Scarlet Knights trailed 62-60 with 29 seconds left on the clock.
Rutgers promptly fouled to stop the clock and Mays found herself back at the line. Mays missed her free throw, giving possession back to the Scarlet Knights off a Hollivay rebound.
Junior guard Syessence Davis (Neptune, N.J.) fed Canty at the left side of the arc, where she sank a 3-pointer to give Rutgers its first lead since the 12:35 mark of the first half. Canty’s trey put RU up 63-62 with 18 seconds to go.
The dramatics continued, as Mays ended up back at the line and returned the lead to SMU with more free throws. After draining two and giving the Mustangs a 64-63 edge with just five seconds remaining, the ball ended up in the hands of Scaife, who drove to the basket. Her shot bounced off the rim, but Hollivay rose above the scramble for the put back and the win.
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).
• Rutgers won its third straight game by topping SMU, 65-64, at the buzzer on Saturday afternoon in Dallas, Texas. The Scarlet Knights improved to 18-5 overall and 9-3 in the American with the win.
• With the win, head coach C. Vivian Stringer improved to 399-202 in her career “On the Banks” – just one victory shy of the 400-win milestone at RU.
• The starting lineup of Rachel Hollivay, Kahleah Copper, Tyler Scaife, Syessence Davis and Betnijah Laney was used for the 13th time this season. That starting five is now 10-3.
• Rutgers has had three or more Scarlet Knights reach double figures in 17 of the first 23 games of the 2013-14 season.
• The Scarlet Knights have scored at least 60 points in 21 of 23 games this season.
• RU recorded 32 of its 65 points in the paint, including the final tip-in by sophomore Rachel Hollivay to seal the win. The team has scored 30 or more points in 17 of the last 19 games and 19 times this season. RU has won the points in the paint battle 18 times in 23 games and is 17-1 in those contests.
• Sophomore Kahleah Copper led the Scarlet Knights with 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting. It was her second straight contest and 19th time in 23 games this season scoring in double figures. It was her eighth game with 20-plus points.
• Copper set a new career-high with eight free throws made against the Mustangs.
• Hollivay finished the contest with 14 points and 10 rebounds, recording the second double-double of her career.
• With two blocks, Hollivay now has 73 this season – one shy of tying LaTonya Johnson (1991-92) for fifth on the single-season list.
• Hollivay recorded her best offensive start to a game in her short career. She began the contest a perfect 4-of-4 from the field in the first half of action, missing her first field goal at the 9:52 mark in the second half. The start beat her previous best mark of 3-of-3 at Memphis on Jan. 14, 2014 and vs. Pittsburgh on March 4, 2013.
• Freshman Tyler Scaife scored 10 points against Memphis, her fourth straight game and eighth time in nine contests in double figures.
• Junior Syessence Davis notched seven assists, tying season-high for the fifth time this season. RU is 5-0 in those contests. Davis had recorded at least five assists for the 14th time in 23 games this season.
• Davis recorded at least three steals (four) for the 15th time in the last 19 games.
• Davis hauled in six rebounds, her 11th time this season with at least five boards.
• The Scarlet Knights edged SMU, 36-33, on the glass, winning the battle on the boards for the third straight game. Rutgers is 13-1 this season when out-rebounding the opposition.
• RU recorded double-digit steals (12) for the 10th time this season.
• Hollivay grabbed six or more rebounds (10) for the sixth consecutive game.
• Sophomore Precious Person finished one point shy of her career-high with eight points, going 2-of-3 from 3-point range. The total was Person’s highest since scoring eight on Jan. 22 at UCF.
• As a team, RU went 4-of-9 from beyond the arc, tying a season-high for most 3-pointers made. It was the squad’s fourth time converting four 3-pointers.
• RU shot at least 70 percent (76.5) from the free throw line for the seventh time this season, as Copper led the Scarlet Knights with an 8-of-11 clip. The shooting percentage was the team’s second-highest behind its 81.3 percent free throw clip on Jan. 28 vs. Louisville.
• SMU had four players score in double figures Saturday afternoon. The Mustangs became just the fourth opponent (UConn, Memphis & UMass) this season to have four players in double figures. It was RU’s first victory this season with four opponents topping double figures.
Follow Rutgers women’s basketball on Facebook (www.facebook.com/RutgersWBB), Twitter (www.twitter.com/RutgersWBB) and Instagram (www.instagram.com/RutgersWBB) for all of the latest news and updates. Fans also receive timely information, including special offers and giveaways throughout the year on both social media outlets along with www.ScarletKnights.com.