There was a time when these lopsided wins went in favor of Rutgers' legendary coach, but in this era, Geno Auriemma has the advantage. In a game that holds the record for most combined wins for two coaches (men's or women's), the Connecticut Huskies continued their run of dominance over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, 91-55.
The game began with physicality right from the first whistle. Coach Stringer vowed that her team would not be intimidated by the UConn's record, and she kept her promise. The Knights battled against number one team in the nation like old rivals should, and it looked as if Rutgers would hold off the usual Husky run that overpowered almost every other team they played this season. A scary moment just minutes into the game foreshadowed the type of rough and tumble affair that you would expect between these two teams, when Briyona Canty and Breanna Stewart collided head first for a loose ball. Both Rutgers and UConn traded fouls in the first ten minutes of the opening half, and the Knights held on to a six-point deficit at the nine minute mark.
However, RU just couldn't hold on long enough. UConn's Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis hit trey after trey to score 13 points to finish the first half to send the Huskies into intermission with a 51-31 advantage. The second half didn't go any better for the Knights, and Rutgers' final game of the 2014-2015 season ended with a final score of 91-55.
After a WNIT title last season, it's tough to see the year end like this at the hands of an old nemesis. But this team played well all year and made a great first impression in our new league. Even Coach Stringer kept her head up after the game:
"More than anything I just respect that we didn't play down and we tried. We played with courage and conviction, and that's all you can ask."
For seniors Syessence Davis, Christa Evans, Alexis Burke, and Betnijah Laney, a good season ends with an NCAA Tournament berth from arguably the strongest women's basketball conference in the nation, top to bottom. For Laney, she ends her stellar career on the Banks 14th in scoring, sixth in rebounding, and notched 20 double-doubles in her senior season. Davis earned Defensive Player of the Year in her first campaign in the Big Ten. Tough shoes to fill indeed.
Next season should be a year defined by senior leadership. Rachel Hollivay, Kahleah Copper, Briyona Canty, and Ariel Butts will all be in their final years of eligibility. Tyler Scaife and Shrita Parker should be even better after one year of experience that included a tournament run. After a short hiatus from the NCAAs, C. Vivian Stringer looks poised for more success in the coming season.