In a thrilling, back and forth game against Nebraska last night, Rutgers was able to reclaim the lead in the final sixty seconds and hold on to a 66=63 victory. With this huge win, Rutgers advances to the B1G Tournament quarterfinals for the second year in a row, scheduled to face second seed Ohio State tonight.
Despite usually suffering from slow starts throughout the season, Rutgers started the game off strong, trading points in the opening minutes. Guard Tyler Scaife sank a jumper to start a 13-0 run for the Scarlet Knights, extending their lead to 23-9 at the end of the first quarter.
END OF FIRST QUARTER: #RHoops 23, Nebraska 9 - RU goes on 13-0 run final 4 minutes - Rachel Hollivay & Tyler Scaife with 6 pts each— RU Women's Hoops (@RutgersWBB) March 3, 2016
The teams continued to trade points in the second quarter, but Rutgers was able to hold on to its double digit lead for most of the frame. With five minutes left in the quarter, the Huskers cut the lead to eight off a three-pointer by Esther Ramacieri, but Kahleah Copper was able to get the score back up to 28-18 on a three point play. The Huskers' three point shooting would continue to keep the score close, as Natalie Romeo hit three straight from long distance to highlight a 13-2 run by Nebraska. Heading into the locker room at the half, Rutgers was holding on to a one point lead, 34-33.
HALFTIME: #RHoops 34, Nebraska 33 - RU: Hollivay 7 pts, 6 reb; Copper 7 pts; Parker 5 pts | NEB: Romeo 14 pts 4-6 3FG; Havers 8 pts— RU Women's Hoops (@RutgersWBB) March 4, 2016
Romeo continued to lead Nebraska after the half, knocking down two more three point shots for the Huskers' first lead of the night, 39-38 with six minutes to go in the third quarter. Nebraska would continue to have a strong third quarter, at one point extending their lead to six points, and at the end of the frame holding a 50-46 lead.
Rutgers showed their resiliency at the beginning of the fourth quarter, going on a 7-0 run and getting within one, 58-57 with 5 minutes left in the game. Romeo continued to be hot from deep, hitting her seventh three of the night, to push the lead back up to 61-57. Despite Romeo's hot hand, Rutgers would not let up, going on a 7-2 run. After sophomore Shrita Parker knocked down two clutch free throws to extend the lead to 66-63, Romeo got one more shot at a deep three for the tie. Thankfully for Rutgers fans, her brilliant shooting performance was over, as she missed the last second heave and Briyonna Canty grabbed the rebound for the victory.
Copper recorded 17 points, becoming the fourth player for Rutgers women's basketball with 1,800 career points. Rachel Hollivay recorded 10 rebounds, her seventh double digit rebounding game of the season. Surprising star of the night, though, was Parker, who had a career high 18 points, and also sealed the game with her two free throws at the end
Rutgers is set to face #2 seed Ohio State tonight. Advancing to the quarterfinals tremendously helps the Scarlet Knights' chances of reaching the NCAA Tournament. Right now, they are projected as one of the last teams outside of the Tournament, but with a strong showing, or upset victory, against the Buckeyes, we will likely see Rutgers participating in March Madness. Tune in to watch the quarterfinals tonight at 6:30 PM EST!