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Rutgers drops quarterfinal game to Northwestern, 62-57

Who gets the "honor" of moving on to play No. 1 seed Maryland?

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

It was just eight days ago that the women lost in a 20-point drubbing to the Wildcats.  It was the game that pretty much sealed RU into the fifth seed and forfeited an opportunity to have the double bye.

The first match up was on the Cats' Evanston campus.  The rematch was just about 28 miles due west at Sears Centre.  And the result went due south for Rutgers as they could not hold onto a first half lead, dropping their quarterfinal game to the Wildcats,62-57.

Two major injuries impacted Rutgers. At the 6:56 mark of the first half, Rachel Hollivay went down, landing awkwardly and then holding her right knee while writhing on the floor. Hollivay was grimacing and, in the silenced arena, you could hear her moaning in pain. She was helped off, hobbling. She returned to the bench on crutches,  And with 6:09 left in the game, Syessence Davis went down holding her knee after an accidental rolling block took her out. She did not return.

In the first match up between these teams, Northwestern (23-8) had five players in double figures. They equaled that in this game.  At the other end, Betnijah Laney, the player who made double-double her middle name, was a mystery as she had only 9 points and 8 rebounds.

Rutgers' (22-9) first half lead was as large as 15.  But four turnovers in five trips under four minutes allowed Northwestern to chip away at the lead, cutting it to 37-27 at intermission, with the lead as small as five.  More importantly, though, it gave a boost to Northwestern's morale.

Fouls against RU down the stretch in the first half, some invisible to the naked eye, also helped the Cats. Tyler Scaife had four personal fouls at the half.  Overall, the Cats went to the line twice as much as Rutgers.

The second half opened miserably for the Knights as Northwestern used tough defense and blocked shots to turn a ten point deficit into a nine-point lead. Only six points in the first ten minutes of the second half was devastating.  A pattern that has been seen before, at the under-eight timeout, Rutgers was down ten.

Friday, March 6, 2015
Game 7: No. 1 Maryland vs. No. 9 Michigan State Maryland 70, MSU 60
Game 8: No. 4 Northwestern vs. No. 5 Rutgers Northwestern 62, Rutgers 57
Game 9: No. 2 Iowa vs. No. 7 Nebraska, 7:00 p.m. ET (BTN)
Game 10: No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 6 Minnesota, 25 minutes after Game 9 (BTN)
Saturday, March 7, 2015
Game 11: Maryland vs. Northwestern, 7:00 p.m. ET (BTN)
Game 12: Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, 25 minutes after Game 11 (BTN)
Sunday, March 8, 2015
Championship Game: Game 11 winner vs. Game 12 winner, 7:00 p.m. ET (ESPN)

The Knights now wait to see if they can make the NCAA with an at-large bid after a quarterfinal loss in the conference tournament.  Their 42 RPI may make that possible.

In the first half, Syssence Davis became the team's all time leader in steals. The Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year moved ahead of Rutgers Assistant Coach Tasha Pointer (RU '01).