The Rutgers men’s basketball team won its final non-conference game of the season on Saturday afternoon, defeating the Maine Black Bears by the final score of 70-55. Here is a holiday condensed edition of the game recap.
Rutgers struggled in the opening frame, trailing 21-12 early and shooting just 37% from the floor, while making only 3 of 14 three-point attempts. Maine played a zone the entire game and it took time for the Scarlet Knights to adjust. They also committed 7 turnovers and were outscored 16-12 with points in the paint. Still, Rutgers led 30-27 at the break, despite Maine shooting 46% from the floor. The saving grace was the bench, who outscored Maine’s reserves 17-0. Myles Johnson started his strong performance overall with a first half of 6 points and 5 rebounds in just ten minutes of action. Ron Harper Jr. also scored all 5 of his points in the game in the first half.
Eugene Omoruyi led the way after the break, scoring 13 and finishing with a game high 17 points on 7 of 12 shooting, as well as 5 rebounds. Caleb McConnell had a big second half as well, scoring 10 points and finishing with a career high 14 in the game, making 3 of 7 three-pointers. He added 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. The two players keyed a 14-0 run that put Rutgers out in front 60-42 with just under six minutes left in the game. Myles Johnson was part of that big run as well and was a perfect 4 for 4 from the floor, finishing the game with his first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
It Was Over When
Rutgers was once again in a much closer game against an inferior opponent than they should have been and only led Maine 46-42 with over 11 minutes remaining. Johnson scored two baskets in a row, followed by two in a row by Omoruyi and a McConnell three put the game out of reach for good. Maine never got closer than 13 points the rest of the way.
Other Notable Contributors
Geo Baker had a solid performance. While he struggled shooting again (3-13; 3-9 3-pt range), besides finishing with 9 points, he dished out 9 assists and had 3 steals.
Stat Of The Game
1) Rutgers owned the boards with a 40-26 advantage, including a 17-6 edge on the offensive glass. It led to a 14-6 edge in second chance points. 2) Rutgers had 20 assists on 23 made field goals.
The four freshman all had moments, especially Johnson and McConnell. Montez Mathis had a good showing with 7 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal in 18 minutes of play. Overall, the four freshman combined to score 36 of Rutgers’ 70 total points, 20 of the total 40 rebounds, and 9 of the total 20 assists. All four finished with a plus rating and gave Rutgers quality minutes, something that is absolutely necessary for this team to succeed in conference play.
Rutgers resumes Big Ten play next Saturday, January 5th at home against Maryland. They finished non-conference play with a 7-3 record and are 7-5 overall after losing its first two Big Ten games.
For Dave White’s four thoughts here.