Should we call it exciting? Sloppy? Ugly? Scary?
How about we just call it a win.
Minnesota came in averaging 86.2 points per game. That was good for third in the Big Ten and eighth in the nation. No one mentioned their free throw shooting prowess or their accuracy from downtown. And it was that shooting that kept the Golden Gophers in the game. As well as RU shot from the field (16-32, 50%) in the first half, Minnesota kept it close from the free throw stripe. And then from beyond the arc as the game progressed.
All in all, it was a tough, gritty win for Rutgers (17-3, 5-1) as they topped Minnesota (14-5, 3-3), 80-70
Rutgers went on a 10-0 run to open the game, keeping the Gophers scoreless for the first four minutes. And while the Knights never trailed in the first half, having a 40-34 lead in the first 20 minutes, it never seemed comfortable with Minnesota’s foul and three point shooting.
Rutgers seemed to push the tempo in the first half (eight fast break points), the Gophers matching it. Minnesota had good, quick movement of the ball throughout the game. And a lack of second chances for RU (only eight to Minnesota’s 16) kept the result in doubt. Rutgers appeared a bit careless with the ball; Minnesota steals (6) and RU mishandling (nine turnovers) gave Minnesota life despite trailing at the half.
Minnesota outscored RU in the third quarter, 13-11, and it felt as if the momentum was shifting to the Gophers. After three periods, Minnesota was getting more second chance points (13-6) and was out-rebounding the Knights.
Then came the “final” ten minutes....and then the next five It’s worth a play-by-play description.
At 5:42 to play, a three by Minnesota’s leading scorer Destiny Pitts brought the Gophers to within two, 56-54. A layup by Hubbard tied the game at 4:50. It was the first tie since the opening tip. After a timeout, Minnesota got the rebound, but KK Sanders took a huge charge to stop a fast break for the potential lead. I mean, it was a linebacker worthy charge! RU came back with the next four points as they upped the defensive pressure. But a Carlie Wagner three drew the Gophers to within one with 2:33 to play. It went to a tie at 1:54 with another three by Wagner. It was a case of Rutgers and Minnesota trading baskets, RU hitting twos and the Gophers threes.
Minnesota took the lead with three free throws at 1:06, with Tyler Scaife responding with a layup and a regaining of the lead, 66-65. UM only had the lead in the game for a total of 26 seconds. The Gophers had fouls to give, and they did, chipping away at the clock on every Rutgers in bound play. Gia Greene finally went to the line with 26.7 to play and hit two to up the lead to 68-65 with 26.7 seconds.
But Pitts hit a three to tie, and Scaife lost the ball on a drive as the clock wound down. The Gophers got the ball and passed it to an unguarded Bell who blew the potential winning layup as the buzzer sounded. Let’s play five more.
In overtime, Minnesota controlled the tip and missed three consecutive shots before Victoria Harris blocked a shot to get the Knights the ball. Stasha Carey, who had a monster game for the Knights, hit two free throws for the first OT points and a 70-68 RU lead. Rebounding on the defensive glass (30 of their 38 total) gave RU opportunities and the Knights were up two halfway through the extra period. It was actually the Gophers short range shooting that hurt them as they missed shot after shot. Scaife hit a long two with 1:29 to play for a Rutgers 74-70 lead.
Some poor ball handling by Minnesota gave possession to Rutgers with 1:00 to go. RU milked the clock and Tyler Scaife split defenders to drop the running jumper at :45 for a six point Rutgers lead. But that truly was a two possession game with the Gopher shooting, except the three point shooting went cold for the visitors. Scaife hit a foul shot at :30, the Knights went up by seven and it was ju-u-u-st about over. Stasha Carey then sank one of two from the line and....yeah, it was over.
Rutgers extended its home winning streak to twelve with the victory. The team shot 50% from the field and was led by Tyler Scaife with 25 points (11-25) and Stasha Carey with 23 (8-11). Carey also had the double-double with a team and game high 14 rebounds.
The Gophers were led by Destiny Pitts and Gadiva Hubbard, both with 22 points. Minnesota shot 11-27 from beyond the arc.
Up next for Rutgers is a game next Thursday at Penn State.
Tyler Scaife 2,000 point recognition
Before the game, Rutgers Athletics recognized senior Tyler Scaife for reaching the 2,000 point mark for her career at Rutgers. Her nine points on Wednesday put her over the milestone mark. Coming into the Minnesota game, she was 205 points away from moving past Cappie Pondexter (2,211, 2002-06) into second placed on RU’s all time scoring list.
Honoring Glenys Manfre
Long time fan/supporter and leader of the Cagers Club, the women’s hoop’s booster group, Glenys Manfre was honored before the game. Her husband Bob was a guest coach. OTB recognized Glenys in this post back in December.
Knight Watch: the future is bright and...ahem....”I’m lovin’ it”
What headline would you expect with two McDonald’s All Americans? News released that two RU signees will be playing in the McDonald’s All American Game. Zipporah Broughton and Tyia Singleton, who will join the Knights this fall are the young stars.
Broughton is a 5-7 point guard from Wetumpka, Alabama and is ranked No. 24 overall and the No. 5 point guard in the nation according to ESPN Hoopgurlz. Singleton, a 6-2 forward from Winter Haven, Florida, is ranked as the No. 18 post player in the nation according to ESPN Hoopgurlz.