Without their leading scorer and their leading rebounder, St. Peter's still held a 12 point advantage just about half way through the 2nd half.
Mike Poole was doing his best to keep Rutgers in it, ultimately scoring 14 points on 6 of 7 shooting, but it still looked dire.
However, Rutgers was able to rally.
More after the jump...Rutgers was able to rally. Their clamped down their defense and limited the amount of turnovers they'd given up early in the game. Austin Carroll hit an important backdoor lay-up and followed it up with a 3 pointer to put Rutgers back in the game.
With about four minutes to go, Jonathan Mitchell hit a turnaround jumper to give Rutgers a 48-46 lead. And despite going 14 of 27 from the line, Rutgers did enough to hold on to the lead down the stretch. Mike Poole got his thirteenth and fourteenth points at the line late, but senior Mike Coburn wasn't able to make either of his with ten seconds left.
St. Peter's had a chance to tie, but couldn't get a shot off.
Mike Rice did everything he could to try and wake the team up, even threatening to hold two practices on Christmas Eve. It worked, and Rutgers was able to escape with the win. They are now 9-2 (7-0 at the RAC). It's the best start by a first year Rutgers hoops coach since Donald White started 10-2 in 1945-46.
Next up is UNC at MSG, which then leads into the Big East season.