PISCATAWAY, N.J. (March 6, 2014) – The postseason begins for Rutgers women’s basketball on Saturday when No. 4 Rutgers meets No. 5 SMU at noon at Mohegan Sun Arena. The game will air on ESPN3.
Championship Central: www.TheAmerican.org/WBB
Live Video “Above the Rim”: The American will carry extensive live wraparound coverage of the championship on The American Digital Network (www.TheAmerican.org/DN) including press conferences and interviews with host, Tara Petrolino.
• The Rutgers women’s basketball team will play as the No. 4 seed for the inaugural American Athletic Conference Championships, held at Mohegan Sun from March 7-10. RU will face No. 5 SMU in the quarterfinals, having swept the Mustangs in the regular season series. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3 with Bob Picozzi and Brooke Weisbrod on the call. WCTC will also be on hand covering the action, along with WRSU, Rutgers student radio.
• Rutgers enters the contest at 21-8 overall, closing the year at 12-6 in the American after losing, 60-51, to USF at the RAC. The Scarlet Knights were led by Syessence Davis, who tied her career-high with 12 points in the contest.
• Sophomore forward Kahleah Copper leads RU in scoring and field goal percentage. She is seventh in the American with 15.8 points per game and third in the league in field goal percentage (55.7 percent).
• Junior Betnijah Laney is averaging just shy of a double-double with 12.4 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. She has scored in double figures 19 times in 27 games played, recording 12 double-doubles in that span.
• Sophomore Rachel Hollivay leads the American with 3.4 blocks per game. She has 94 blocks this season and is three shy of tying Sue Wicks (1986-87) for first on the RU single-season list.
Kahleah Copper was named First Team All-American Athletic Conference. Betnijah Laney and Tyler Scaife were Second Team All-American Athletic Conference honorees.
The American Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year, Scholar-Athlete of the Year and Coach of the Year will be announced at a press conference on Friday, March 7 at Mohegan Sun Arena at 4 p.m. ET. The event will be streamed live at www.theamerican.org/dn.
The Mustangs enter the American Athletic Conference Tournament as the No. 5 seed after wrapping up the regular season at 17-12 overall and 8-10 in the American. SMU closed the year with a 79-67 win over UCF on Tuesday, March 4 to claim the fifth seed in the tourney, as senior guard Keena Mays came off the bench to lead all scorers with 26 points on 8-of-16 shooting.
Mays leads the conference with 20.8 points per game and a 38.2 percent shooting clip from 3-point range, converting 73 3-pointers on the season. Behind Mays are senior forward Akil Simpson and junior forward Destynee Hives-McCray with 13.7 and 11.0 points per game, respectively.
Simpson is also the Mustangs’ rebounding leader this season with 8.3 boards per game, and is sixth in the league with a 52.2 field goal percentage.
ALL-TIME SERIES WITH SMU
Rutgers is 2-0 all-time against SMU, defeating the Mustangs, 64-54, at home on Jan. 11 and 65-64 by virtue of a Rachel Holliay buzzer-beater on Feb. 8.
RU also held SMU to exactly 20 points in the paint in each of the first two meetings while recording at least 32 points in the paint in both wins.
CRASHING THE BOARDS
The Scarlet Knights out-rebounded SMU in each of their first two meetings with the Mustangs, topping SMU, 50-46, in the first meeting and 36-33 in the second meeting.
Betnijah Laney and Rachel Hollivay paced RU on the glass in both meetings, hauling in 11 rebounds apiece in the first game between the two schools. Hollivay led the Scarlet Knights in the second contest, as well, grabbing 10 rebounds while Laney hauled in nine.
RU recorded 50 rebounds in the first matchup with SMU, the third time this season the team reached the 50 rebound mark.
WRANGLING THE MUSTANGS
The Scarlet Knights held SMU below 40 percent shooting in both contests, forcing the Mustangs to 28.8 percent shooting in the first meeting between the two schools.
RU also held Keena Mays below her shooting and scoring averages in both contest, as Mays scored just 15 points on Jan. 11 and 16 points on Feb. 8.
Mays, who is shooting 42 percent from the field this season, was 5-of-18 (27.7 percent) in the first game and 4-of-15 (26.6 percent) in the second contest. She shot a combined 2-of-12 (16.6 percent) from beyond the arc against RU this season.
STEALING THE SHOW
Syessence Davis, the American’s steals leader this season with 3.1 per game, swiped the ball away four times in each of the first two meetings against SMU.
As a team, RU recorded 12 steals in the second meeting with SMU, one of 12 times this season the Scarlet Knights have achieved that feat.
Tyler Scaife has turned in consistent performances against SMU this season, as she is the only Scarlet Knight to post double figures in both games.
She scored 16 points to lead RU in the first meeting with SMU and notched 10 points in the second contest.
Rookie Tyler Scaife has proven to be one of the top freshmen in the conference this season, averaging 13.7 points and 3.0 assists per game.
She has notched five 20-point contests and is two points shy of becoming just the seventh freshman to score at least 400 points in her rookie campaign.
Among freshman in the American this season, Scaife is first in scoring (13.7) and field goal percentage (46.0) and third in free throw percentage (74.4).
20 AND COUNTING
Head coach C. Vivian Stringer recorded her 28th 20-win season since her 1979-80 campaign, which includes stints at Cheyney State and Iowa, as well at Rutgers. While “On The Banks”, Stringer has had 14 20-win campaigns.
The 2013-14 squad is among the quickest teams to reach the 20-win mark in Stringer’s career.
1998-99 – Feb. 6
1985-86 – Feb. 8
1978-79 – Feb. 10
1979-80 – Feb. 14
1980-81 – Feb. 14
2005-06 – Feb. 14
2013-14 – Feb. 15
2007-08 – Feb. 16
Head coach C. Vivian Stringer won her 400th career victory “On The Banks” at Houston on Tuesday, Feb. 11.
All-Time Rutgers WBB Coaching Records (By Wins)
Theresa Grentz - 434-150/ (1977-95) 19 seasons
C. Vivian Stringer - 402-205/(1995-present) 19 seasons
Ellen Johns - 6-5/(1974-75) One season
Dottie McCrea - 5-9/(1975-76) One season
Rutgers is won one win away from tying the program’s highest win total (22) over the past six seasons. The team won 22 games in 2010-11 and 21 in 2008-09.
IN BIG GAMES
In games against No. 1 Connecticut and No. 3 Louisville, Tyler Scaife has averaged 18.0 points per game. Against the defending national champs, Scaife poured in 22 points against the Huskies on 10-of-17 shooting. Three games later against last season’s national runner-ups, she collected a career-high 25 points on 10-of-16 shooting against the Cardinals.
In RU’s second meeting with Louisville, Scaife led the squad with 17 points on 8-of-17 shooting.
Scaife’s only fell below double-digits in RU’s second meeting with UConn, scoring eight points on 4-of-16 shooting. It was her first time in nine games not reaching double figures.
SCORING IN CHUNKS
Rutgers’ 90 points against UCF (Feb. 15) was the highest point total this season and most since the team defeated Houston, 74-42 on Feb. 11.
RU surpassed the 80+ point mark for the second time this season. The Scarlet Knights had 80 points in an 83-53 win over Wagner on Dec. 12 of this season.
Rutgers last had two games of 80 points or more in 2010-11 when it had a 90-56 win over Kean and an 88-59 victory over North Carolina A&T. Last time Rutgers has three 80+ point scoring games was during the 2008-09 season.
A member of the Scarlet Knights has scored 20 or more points 17 times in 2013-14, the most 20+ point outings since the 2011-12 season when RU had a Scarlet Knight reach the milestone nine times.
Kahleah Copper has reached the 20+ point milestone nine times thus far this season, the most since April Sykes did so six times during the 2010-11 campaign and Brittany Ray did so seven times in 2009-10.
Epiphany Prince holds the mark for the most 20-point games in the last five years, recording 16 in the 2008-09 season.
Copper and Scaife notched 22 points against UCF (Feb. 15), marking the fifth time this year RU has had two Knights score 20 or more points in a game. RU also had two Scarlet Knights drop 20 or more points against UConn (Tyler Scaife – 22; Kahleah Copper 20), Howard (Rachel Hollivay – 26; Kahleah Copper – 23), Memphis (Kahleah Copper – 23; Tyler Scaife – 21) and Temple (Betnijah Laney – 24; Kahleah Copper – 20).
SEIZING THE OPPORTUNITY
In her first-career start, sophomore center Ariel Butts set new career-highs in points (eight), rebounds (eight), field goals made (four), blocks (three) and minutes played (20) in RU’s victory over Temple (Feb. 26).
She earned her second consecutive start in RU’s following game at No. 1/1 UConn on March 1 and third against USF on March 3.
After tying her career-high of nine blocks against USF (March 3), Rachel Hollivay now has 94 this season, good for second on the single-season list.
Hollivay is three blocks shy of tying former great Sue Wicks’ single-season record of 97 blocks, set during the 1986-87 season.
GETTING TO THE POINTS
Rutgers has one of the highest scoring averages under C. Vivian Stringer’s 19-year tenure “On the Banks” with the 2013-14 squad.
On the season, RU is averaging 66.7 points per game. That is 12.4 points more than the squad averaged last year and the best scoring average since the Final Four season in 2006-07, when the Scarlet Knights averaged 64.4 points per game.
The Scarlet Knights have scored 60 or more points in 24 of their 29 games this season.
1. 70.0 (35 games) 1998-99 – 29-6 – Elite Eight *
2. 68.7 (32 games) 1997-98 – 22-10 – Sweet 16
3. 67.3 (29 games) 2002-03 – 21-8 – 2nd Round
4. 66.7 (29 games) 2013-14 – CURRENT SEASON
5. 65. 6 (31 games) 2000-01 – 23-8 – 2nd Round
6. 64.4 (36 games) 2006-07 – 27-9 – National Runner-up
7. 64.0 (35 games) 1999-00 – 26-8 – Sweet 16
8. 63.9 (32 games) 2005-06 – 27-5 – Sweet 16
9. 63.2 (35 games) 2004-05 – 28-7 – Elite 8
10. 63.1 (34 games) 2008-09 – 21-13 – Sweet 16
11. 62.5 (33 games) 2003-04 – 21-12 – 1st Round
12. 61.9 (28 games) 1995-96 – 13-15
13. 61.4 (33 games) 2010-11 – 20-13 – 2nd Round
14. 61.0 (34 games) 2007-08 – 27-7- Elite 8
15. 60.9 (32 games) 2011-12 – 1st Round
16. 57.8 (34 games) 2009-10 – 19-15 – 1st Round
17. 57.2 (28 games) 1996-97 -11-17
18. 56.0 (30 games) 2012-13 – 16-14
19. 55.6 (29 games) 2001-02 – 9-20
* Current Assistant Coach Tasha Pointer helped with that scoring average by averaging 6.8 assists per game as a sophomore. She is Rutgers all-time assists leader men or women.
ESSY ON THE D-FENSE
Junior guard Syessence Davis has proved to be invaluable on defense this season. Davis has recorded three or more steals in 21 of the last 25 games, as her 3.1 steals per game average is first in the league.
Davis recorded a career-high seven steals against on Dec. 12, surpassing her previous best effort of five which was captured on four occasions, most recently at Davidson (Dec. 4).
Syessence Davis has been generous with the ball through the first 29 games of the 2013-14 campaign, averaging 4.2 assists per game. The Neptune, N.J., native has handed out five or more assists in 15 of RU’s 29 games this season.
She tied her season-high of seven assists last time out against SMU, marking the fifth time this year she dished out seven helpers. RU is 5-0 in those contests.
Junior forward Betnijah Laney notched her 12th double-double of the season against No. 3/3 Louisville (Feb. 23), finishing with 14 points and 2 rebounds. She had her double-double streak of seven games snapped against SMU, finishing with eight points and 11 rebounds. Her streak of seven straight was the longest for an RU player in the last 10 years.
Her season total ties Kia Vaughn for the most since the 2006-07 season.
THE WILL TO SCORE
Rutgers has had three or more Scarlet Knights reach double figures in 21 of 29 games this season.
Sophomore forward Kahleah Copper has reached double figures in 23 of her 28 games played to date. Copper is the first Scarlet Knights since Epiphanny Prince in the 2006-07 season to start the year off with 11 straight double figure performances. Prince kicked off the 2006-07 national championship game season running away with 11 straight double figure contests.
Copper’s streak came to an end against USF, against which she was 4-of-10 from the field for nine points. However, she has rebounded in her last 13 games, scoring at least 20 points six times.
LIVING IN THE PAINT
RU has scored 30 or more point in the paint in 19 of its last 25 games and 21 times this season. The team has won the points in the paint battle in 19 of 27 games and is 18-1 in those contests. The Scarlet Knights’ season-high of points in the paint is 52, recording against Wagner (Dec. 13) and UCF (Feb. 15).
OFF AND RUNNING
The Rutgers women’s basketball team has taken some rather large runs in games this season. The 11 runs are listed below in periodically descending order.
Northeasterm - 16-0 - Huskies held scoreless for 7:03
UMass - 10-0 - Minutewomen held scoreless for 4:27
Howard - 10-0 - Bison held scoreless for 1:04
Davidson - 15-0 - Wildcats held scoreless for 7:49
Sacred Heart - 21-0 - Pioneers held scoreless for 9:50
USF - 21-0 - Bulls held scoreless for 8:28
Houston - 12-0- Cougars held scoreless for 4:31
Cincinnati - 20-0-Bearcats held scoreless for 9:05
Temple - 12-0 Owls held scoreless for 2:39
Memphis - 10-0 Tigers held scoreless for 3:25
Memphis - 10-0 Tigers held scoreless for 5:27
UCF - 14-0 Knights held scoreless for 3:57
UCF - 14-0 Knights held scoreless for 4:29.
Rutgers defeated UCF by 40 points on Feb. 15, the team’s largest margin of victory this season. RU has held 30+ point leads on six teams this season – (37 - vs. Wagner; 33 - vs. Sacred Heart; 31 – vs. Howard; 31 - at Davidson; at Houston - 37; vs. UCF - 43).
It was the third time the Scarlet Knights had a 30+ point edge against on the road and first against an American opponent this season.
FIRST HALF IMPRESSIONS
Rutgers opened its Dec. 12 win over Wagner on a 12-4 run and never looked back. The Scarlet Knights took a commanding 47-19 halftime lead and a trio of Scarlet Knights put away double figures by the intermission.
The 28-point halftime edge was RU’s largest lead at the intermission this season and the 47 points were the most by the squad at the half this season.
Additionally RU shot a blistering 60 percent from the floor connecting of 21 of its 35 first half shots.
The RU forced Temple into 20 turnovers in its victory over the Owls (Feb. 26). RU has forced the opposition into at least 20 turnovers 13 times in 27 games.
The Scarlet Knights forced eight straight opponents into at least 20 turnovers after Princeton suffered just 16 on opening night. The stingy defensive streak was the team’s longest such streak in the last 10 years.
Rutgers has committed fewer than 20 turnovers in 22 of its 29 games to date.
A Rutgers victory means the Scarlet Knights advance to the semifinals and meet the winner between No. 1 UConn and No.9 UCF/No.8 Cincinnati. The quarterfinal game will take place on Sunday at 1 p.m. on ESPNU.
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