Houston, we have a problem.
The home winning streak was at 12 for Rutgers as Nebraska came to the RAC on Sunday night. Nebraska had won four of their last five, including three wins on the road.
It's now five of six wins and the win streak is over.
Nebraska shot an outrageous 46.8% from the field, negating the usually reliable RU defense, downing Rutgers, 52-42. Add that to 29.3% shooting for Rutgers and the result was very predictable. Rutgers has now lost three of four.
The Knights came into the game coming off a tough loss at Penn State (12-8, 3-4 B1G) on Thursday, 70-67. Rutgers took the lead with 39 seconds remaining but could not hold it as PSU hit free throws down the stretch for the win. Redshirt junior Stasha Carey posted her third double-double of the season and second-straight with 11 rebounds and 10 points. Junior Khadaizha Sanders led the RU scorers with 14 points. Junior Caitlin Jenkins also recorded 11 rebounds in the loss.
If you notice a familiar name missing from that paragraph, you’d be right. Rutgers’ leading scorer, Tyler Scaife (20.5 ppg), had only ten points in the contest. More on that later.
Against Nebraska, Scaife led all scorers with 20 points, but on 8/26 shooting, just under 31%; she has shot over 46% for the season. The big problem was that no one else stepped up to share the load with RU’s leading scorer. Gia Greene was the Knights’ second leading scorer with six points.
And there is an issue for Rutgers. You can’t “eScaife” the truth (sorry) that when Tyler doesn’t score up to her norm, Rutgers does not win, this game not withstanding. Look at the season numbers: in Rutgers four prior losses, Scaife has averaged 12.8 ppg while in the 17 wins she averaged 22.6. Keep in mind that the average for losses includes 20 points against then-No. 3/2 South Carolina. Without that number, she averaged just 10.3 ppg. Yes, others have stepped up at times, including Gia Greene and Stasha Carey who have done well. But it’s Scaife who makes the offense go, and without her scoring it gets tougher - despite a terrific defense - for RU to win.
Today, the defense didn’t hold up, despite leading the Huskers in fast break points and steals. And Nebraska had a much more balanced attack led by Kate Cain (14), and Jasmine Cincore (11). Hannah Whitish and Nicea Eliely each had nine.
Rutgers head coach Stringer is still on hold for 1,000 wins. She stands at a 994-394 career record in 47 seasons. Stringer’s 34 20-win seasons are second-best in women’s basketball history. Former Tennessee head coach Pat Summit leads all coaches with 36 20-win seasons.
NCAA Top 16
The NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee provided the first of three regular season top-16 rankings in seed order on Thursday evening with the Scarlet Knights listed at No. 15. Ohio State is the only other Big Ten team in the top-16.
The Jan. 18 ranking is the first of three top-16 rankings that will be revealed by the committee during the 2017-18 regular season. In addition, two other top-16 reveals are scheduled this season to take place on Thurs., February 1 and Monday, Feb. 19.
The Penn State and Nebraska losses are not a part of the seedings so the February 1 seeding will likely show Rutgers dropping out, as they likely will drop from the national rankings.
1. UConn (No. 1 seed – Albany)
2. Mississippi State (No. 1 seed – Kansas City)
3. Louisville (No. 1 seed – Lexington)
4. Oregon (No. 1 seed – Spokane)
6. Notre Dame
8. South Carolina
10. Ohio State
11. Florida State
14. Texas A&M
* Rankings based on games played through Tuesday night, January 16.