PISCATAWAY, N.J. (February 26, 2014) – The No. 24 Rutgers women’s basketball team led wire-to-wire and held off several Temple surges in looking to solidify a third seed at the upcoming American Athletic Conference Championship with a 67-58 victory over the Owls Wednesday night at the RAC.
The win improves Rutgers to 21-6 overall and 12-4 in the American. Temple fell to 12-15 overall and 6-10 in the league.
Rutgers started out on an 8-0 run and was ahead by as many as 11 with 13 minutes left in the first half, however the Scarlet Knights would only lead by three at the half and see Temple pull within two with 5:30 remaining.
Sophomore forward Kahleah Copper (Philadelphia, Pa.) came off the bench for a double-double. Copper notched 17 points and 12 rebounds with her first points of the evening giving the Scarlet Knights their largest margin of the night at 17-6 at the 13:01 mark of the first half
Also reaching double digits were freshman guard Tyler Scaife (Little Rock, Ark.), who captured a game-high 21 points, and junior forward Betnijah Laney (Clayton, Del.) with 11 points in the win.
RU started the game with a new line-up that included sophomore Ariel Butts (Columbus, Ga.) among the starting five. Butts ended the night with a career-high eight points and career-high eight rebounds.
Rutgers led, 29-20, with 1:42 left until the half, however Temple employed an 8-3 run to close out the final moments. The Scarlet Knights led just 31-28 entering the half.
The Owls pulled to within one in the early moments of second half action. A Temple Taylor Robinson lay-up saw RU holding to a 33-32 edge a minute and a half into the second stanza.
The Scarlet Knights managed to have an answer for each time the Owls pulled to within striking distance of the lead. After back-to-back buckets by Scaife and Laney, to give RU a five-point cushion, Temple managed to close the gap to within two, three more times.
Feyonda Fitzgerald, who along with Scaife is among the top freshmen in the American, notched a jumper with 15:24 remaining as RU led just 41-39. However, Rutgers outscored Temple 9-3 over the next four minutes to regain a sizeable advantage, going ahead 51-42 with 11 minutes to go.
Rutgers was still ahead by nine, 55-46, with seven minutes left to play when the Owls went on a 9-2 run and the Scarlet Knights found themselves up by only two points once again. The Scarlet Knights, as they had done all night long, punched back. With 5:30 left, RU rattled off six unanswered points and outscored the Owls, 10-3 for the final score.
Temple’s Fitzgerald finished the game with 17 points. Tyonna Williams had 15 in the Owl loss.
The Rutgers women’s basketball team returns to action on Saturday, March 1 at No. 1 Connecticut. The game will air on the CBS SportsNetwork with Brent Stover and Debbie Antonelli on the call. It will be the final regular season road game for the Scarlet Knights.
- Rutgers improved to 21-6 overall and 12-4 in the American with the victory. The Scarlet Knights swept the regular season series with Temple for the first time since the 1994-95 season, the final year RU was in the Atlantic-10 Conference.
- RU is one win away from tying the program’s highest win total (22) over the past six seasons. The team won 22 games in 2011-10 and 21 in 2008-09.
- The starting line-up of Tyler Scaife, Briyona Canty, Syessence Davis and Betnijah Laney and Ariel Butts was used for the first time this season. It was Butts’ first career start.
- The Scarlet Knights scored at least 60 points for the 24th time in 27 games.
- RU has had three or more players score in double figures in 21 of the first 27 games this season.
- As a team, RU out-rebounded Temple, 43-24. The rebound differential (+19) was the Scarlet Knights’ highest of the season and best since edging Cincinnati, 45-21 (+21), on Feb. 19, 2013 at the RAC.
- It was the seventh consecutive game RU has won the battle on the glass.
- Freshman Tyler Scaife led all scorers with 21 points on 8-of-18 shooting, her eighth-straight game in double figures. She has reached double-digits 21 times this season and the 20-point mark five times.
- Over the past eight games, Scaife has averaged 17.8 points and 3.8 assists per game. In that span, the rookie has notched three of her five 20-point outings this season.
- Sophomore Kahleah Copper posted the third double-double of her career with 17 points and 12 rebounds on 7-of-11 shooting. She scored 12 of her 17 points in the second half.
- Junior Betnijah Laney scored in double figures for the fourth-straight game and 18th time this year, finishing with 11 points
- Sophomore Ariel Butts set new career-highs in points (eight), rebounds (eight), field goals made (four), blocks (three) and minutes played (20).
- Scaife finished a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line, the seventh time this season she has been perfect from the charity stripe. Her five foul shots made without missing ties a career-high.
- Davis finished the contest with five steals, the fourth time she swiped the ball at least five times and 19th time in 23 games she recorded at least three steals. Entering the contest, she led the American with 2.9 steals per game.
- Davis has recorded at least four assists and four steals seven times this season: against Wagner (5a, 7stl), USF (7a, 4stl), SMU (5a, 4stl), Memphis (5a, 5stl), SMU (7a, 4stl), UCF (5a, 4stl) and Temple (4a, 5stl).
- Rutgers committed 22 turnovers Wednesday night, the first time the team has had more than 20 miscues since giving the ball up 24 times against SMU (Feb. 8). It was just the second time in the last 10 games RU had 20-plus turnovers.
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