PISCATAWAY, N.J. (March 3, 2014) – The Rutgers women’s basketball team fell, 60-51, to USF on Monday night at the RAC to become the No. 4 seed at this weekend’s American Athletic Conference Tournament at Mohegan Sun.
The Scarlet Knights, who were in an early 9-0 hole and trailed by as many 16 early in the second half, managed to pull within three with 1:27 remaining, but could not overcome the USF advantage.
Rutgers ends the regular season at 21-8 overall and 12-6 in the American. USF, which clinched the No. 3 seed with the win, upped its overall mark to 18-11 overall and 13-5 in the league.
The Bulls jumped out to a 9-0 lead, denying the Scarlet Knights a field goal until six minutes into the contest.
RU continually chipped away at the USF advantage and found itself trailing by only three, 18-15, with 9:34 in the first half. However, the Bulls’ Tamara Taylor knocked down two shots and Shaleth Stringfield completed the traditional three-point play to put USF back up by eight, 25-17, just 30 seconds later.
Rutgers followed with a Rachel Hollivay (Columbus, Miss.) layup, her first points in three games, and Betnijah Laney (Clayton, Del.) hit a jumper in the team’s next two trips down the court to trail, 25-21, with 4:08 left in the half. The Bulls responded by doing what they did to open up the game, taking a 9-0 run to go up 34-21 at the half.
The Bulls opened up second half action outscoring the Scarlet Knights, 16-3, for their largest lead of the night at 40-24 with 16:09 left.
The Scarlet Knights did not go away and continued to pull closer and closer as the half wore on.
With USF up 50-37 at the 7:22 mark, Rutgers rallied with a 10-2 run capped by a driving Kahleah Copper (Philadelphia, Pa.) to the basket. Copper’s basket saw RU trailing by five, 52-47, with 3:49 left to play.
The Bulls’ Courtney Williams, who finished with a game-high 26 points, scored on USF’s next possession and the high intensity on the court saw the Scarlet Knights get fouled and sent to the line. Copper and Laney each sunk two attempts apiece, as what had once been a 16-point USF lead had dwindled down to three with 1:27 to go.
Williams’ responded by knocking down a 3-pointer, while the Bulls held RU scoreless the remainder of the way. Free throws gave USF the final margin.
Junior Syessence Davis (Neptune, N.J.) finished the night with a career-tying 12 points and seven rebounds for the Scarlet Knights. Hollivay, who came off the bench, notched 10 points and nine blocks in the loss.
Williams, who led all scorers with 26 points, also added in 13 rebounds. Alisia Jenkins also performed a double-double with 10 points and 14 boards.
Next stop for the Rutgers women’s basketball team is March Madness. The Scarlet Knights will open American Tournament action on Saturday at noon against the No. 5 seed. Their opponent will be either Temple or SMU.
2014 AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
Game 1: Fri. Mar 7 – No. 9 UCF vs. No. 8 Cincinnati – 6 p.m. (ESPN3)
Game 2: Fri. Mar. 7 – No. 7 Memphis vs. No. 10 Houston – 8 p.m. (ESPN3)
Game 3: Sat. Mar. 8 – No. 4 Rutgers vs. No. 5 Temple/SMU – Noon (ESPN3)
Game 4: Sat. Mar. 8 – No. 1 UConn vs. Winner Game 1 – 2 p.m. (ESPN3)
Game 5: Sat. Mar. 8 – No. 2 Louisville vs. Winner Game 2 – 6 p.m. (ESPN3)
Game 6: Sat. Mar. 8 - No. 3 USF vs. No. 6 Temple/SMU – 8 p.m. (ESPN3)
Game 7: Sun. Mar. 9 – Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 – 1 p.m. (ESPNU)
Game 8: Sun. Mar. 8 – Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6 – 3 p.m. (ESPNU)
Game 9: Mon. Mar. 10 – Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8 – 7 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN2)
- No. 24 Rutgers dropped to 21-8 overall and 12-6 in the American with the loss to USF Monday night at the RAC. The Scarlet Knights end the year at home with a 12-3 record, suffering three defeats for the first time since 2011-12.
- RU will play as the No. 4 seed in the inaugural American Athletic Conference Tournament at Mohegan Sun and take on either SMU or Temple in its tourney-opener. Should SMU defeat UCF on Tuesday, the Scarlet Knights will take on the Mustangs. A SMU loss would match-up RU and Temple.
- The starting line-up of Tyler Scaife, Kahleah Copper, Syessence Davis and Betnijah Laney and Ariel Butts was used for the first time this season.
- USF’s Courtney Williams led all scorers with 26 points. She scored 19 of USF’s 26 points in the second half, as her total was the third-highest by an RU opponent this season.
- Junior Syessence Davis led the Scarlet Knights with 12 points – the first time of her career leading the squad in scoring. Her 12 points tied a career-high for the second time in five games.
- Davis swiped four steals against the Bulls, her 21st time in the last 25 games with at least three thefts.
- Rachel Hollivay scored eight of her 10 points in the second half, finishing in double digits for the 10th time this season.
- Hollivay swatted nine blocks against USF, tying her career-high set on Nov. 22, 2013 against Howard. She passed Kia Vaughn (2007-07) for second on the single-season list with 94 and is now three away from tying Sue Wicks (1986-87) for first all-time.
- As a team, Rutgers blocked double-digit shots (12) for the first time this season. The last time the Scarlet Knights notched double-digit blocks was against Temple on Nov. 30, 2011, when RU stuffed 11 shots.
- Redshirt sophomore guard Briyona Canty tied her career-high with eight rebounds, set on Feb. 12, 2012 against St. John’s. It surpassed her previous season-high of five on the boards.
- The Scarlet Knights shot less than 40 percent (33.3) for the second consecutive game, the first time this season that has occurred.
- RU had just two players score in double figures for the sixth time this season and is 4-2 in those contests. Four of the team’s eight losses have occurred with less than three players scoring in double figures.
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