One former rival down, one to go. Rutgers defeated Seton Hall 79-66 on Saturday night behind a barrage of threes that was uncharacteristic of typical RU performances this season. The Knights shot 7-13 from behind the arc, well above the average of 2.2 three-point attempts per game. Cynthia Hernandez contributed her usual share of treys with two against the Pirates, but it was Betnijah Laney who surprised everyone with four three-pointers of her own. Laney finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds for yet another double-double this season, totalling 20 so far this year. Kahleah Copper and Tyler Scaife added 21 points each, rounding out a strong performance from Rutgers' Big Three.
The Knights were still a bit sloppy against the Pirates, as Rutgers turned the ball over 20 times in the entire game. That helped Seton Hall tie the game from a 12-point deficit in the second half, but RU was just too much. Rutgers outrebounded Seton Hall 55-33 and limited the Pirates to under 36% shooting for the game.
Now, Rutgers must prepare for not only a former rival that has bested the Knights in recent history, but also the number one overall seed in the tournament: the Connecticut Huskies. Can RU challenge UConn on the Huskies' home court?
How to watch
#1 Connecticut Huskies (33-1, 18-0 AAC) vs. #8 Rutgers Scarlet Knights (23-9, 12-6 B1G)
Monday, March 23 - 9:00 PM
Gampel Pavilion - Storrs, Connecticut
Online stream: Watch ESPN
To say Rutgers will be determined to fight a highly-favored UConn team is an understatement. The Huskies have won the past 13 meetings against Rutgers, including the last meeting between the two programs in 2014 (an 83-57 beatdown in the AAC Tournament semifinals). UConn has been dominant this season once again, with their lone loss coming against Stanford last November. If RU has any chance, they'll need to treat the Huskies like any other team. According to Stringer, that's exactly what her team intends to do:
"Geno has said this a thousand times and I know this, any team that comes in and is in awe is down by 20 points right from the beginning. He knows that we don't come in awe. We might be down at some particular point, but it's not because we are in awe of UConn."
Of course, solid defense would come in handy too, and that's a tough proposition with Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Syessence Davis still out after injuring her left knee during the conference tournament. Rutgers will need to make their shots and keep pace with UConn, otherwise the Huskies will build a gigantic lead in a flash.