PISCATAWAY, N.J. (April 1, 2014) – The Rutgers women’s basketball team will meet USF for a third time this season as they take on the Bulls at the Sun Dome on Wednesday, April 2 at 7 p.m in the WNIT semifinals. The winner of the game will advance to play either South Dakota State or UTEP in the WNIT championship game.
• The Rutgers women’s basketball team travels to USF for the semifinals of the WNIT on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. The Scarlet Knights advanced with a 55-50 win at Bowling Green on Monday night.
• RU enters at 26-9 overall and earned an at-large bid to the 64-team WNIT.
• First Team All-American Athletic Conference honoree Kahleah Copper led the Scarlet Knights with 14 points against BGSU as one of three in double figures. American Freshman of the Year Tyler Scaife poured in 13 and Briyona Canty added 11 in the victory.
• USF advanced to the semifinals with a 60-58 win at Mississippi State as Courtney Williams nailed a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer.
• Copper leads RU in scoring (16.2 ppg) with 29 double figure scoring games. She is also hauling in 6.1 rebounds per game.
• Second Team All-American Athletic Conference pick Betnijah Laney is averaging just shy of a double-double with 12.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. She has scored in double figures 23 times, recording 15 double-doubles in that span.
• Sophomore center Rachel Hollivay enters Wednesday at 3.3 blocks per game and ranks eighth nationally. She has 115 blocks this season, which is the RU single-season record.
The Bulls advanced to Wednesday’s semifinal after one of the most thrilling endings in the tournament. It was USF with 4.2 seconds remaining and Courtney Williams sunk a buzzer-beating three-pointer to lift her Bulls squad to a 60-58 win at Mississippi State on Sunday.
Williams finished the game with 13 points while Inga Orekhova led the team with 15 points. Additionally Alisia Jenkins notched 12 points and eight rebounds in the victory.
USF enters Wednesday with a 23-12 overall record and finished American Athletic Conference play at 13-5. They are making their seventh WNIT appearance after playing in the tournament in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010, winning the title in 2009.
In addition to their win over Mississippi State on Sunday, the Bulls have downed North Carolina A&T (56-50), Stetson (75-56) and George Washington (74-59) en-route to the semifinals.
USF is led by Williams at 16.2 points per game along with 7.5 rebounds per game. Inga Orekhova is second on the squad at 11.6 points and Alisia Jenkins is pouring in 9.7 points per game along with a team-high 10.1 rebounds per game.
Rutgers leads the all-time series with USF at 8-3. RU has gone 5-0 playing the Bulls in Tampa.
The two teams spilt the season series with RU opening American Athletic Conference play back on Dec. 28 with a 66-43 with over the Bulls at the Sun Dome. USF equaled the series however in a 60-51 victory at the RAC on March. 3 to close out conference regular season action in a battle for the third seed at the American Tournament.
LAST TIME VS. USF
In a game many have thought to have left the Scarlet Knights out of the NCAA Tournament, the USF Bulls defeated RU, 60-51, to close out the regular season at home back on March 3.
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.
The Bulls closed out the first half 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 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.
Syessence Davis 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.
With the 55-50 win at Bowling Green in the quarterfinals of the WNIT, Rutgers captured its 26th win of the 2013-14 season, the most wins by the Scarlet Knights since 2007-08.
The Scarlet Knights last reached the 26-win mark in 2007-08 when RU finished the season at 27-7.
SOME GOOD THINGS COME TO AN END
The 55-50 win over Bowling Green on Monday at the Stroh Center improved the Scarlet Knights to 9-4 on the road. More notable however was RU’s win snapped Bowling Green’s 16-game home win streak and gave the Falcons their only home loss of the 2013-14 season. BGSU’s last loss was to Drexel in the third round of last year’s WNIT.
NO SECOND HALF SLUMP
Rutgers trailed 25-21 at the half at Bowling Green on Monday, but outscored the Falcons, 34-25 in the second half. The Scarlet Knights improved to 6-7 when trailing at the intermission.
The winner of Wednesday’s Rutgers/USF match-up will advance to the WNIT championship game Saturday, April 5. Either the Scarlet Knights or Bulls will vie for a championship title against the winner of the South Dakota State/UTEP contest. That game will tipoff in El Paso, Texas on Wednesday at 9 p.m. (ET).
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