And the operative phrase is pretty simple: survive and advance.
The RU women did just that as they eked out their first round game over Purdue, 62-60.
Changing the script from their last few games, the Knights (20-11) opened strong, taking the lead and opening a 15-8 margin after the first ten minutes. They shot a solid, if not spectacular, 46% from the field in the first half while holding the Boilermakers (18-13) to just under 39%.
The Boilers did come back in the second quarter, closing the gap to one point at intermission, 30-29.
Halftime didn’t slow the Knights as they came out and opened a 48-39 lead after three periods. But Purdue wasn’t going down easily and their three point shooting in the fourth brought them back from the brink. After trading twos, Purdue hit three straight from beyond the arc. And with 1:50 left, the game was tied at 58. Rutgers went two minutes without a bucket and setting up the closing run.
Down the stretch it was senior Tyler Scaife who scored the game winner. Said Scaife, “I wanted the ball in my hands, so I went and got it, and KK [Khadaizha Sanders] set a screen.”
But there was more to Scaife’s scoring than the game winner.
Among her team-leading 19 points were the three that put her into second place on the all-time Rutgers scoring list. But that wasn’t important to her. When asked if she realized the milestone post game, it was a simple response. “No, I don’t want to talk about that.”
Purdue’s Dominique Oden led all scorers with 25 points. For Rutgers, Junior center Victoria Harris added in 11 points along with six rebounds. Redshirt junior forward Stasha Carey contributed nine points and seven rebounds in the win.
Rutgers head coach C. Vivian Stringer’s career record improved to 997-401. She is three wins away from 1,000 career victories.
The Knights don’t have a lot of time to bask in any glory from this game. They face No. 1 seed Ohio State Friday at noon. Said Stringer, “They’ve just got to get some ice and bath water. One of the coaches is going back right now, so he’s preparing. I think when they get a nice bath and get some good food in their belly, we’ll have a chance to sit down and talk about it. Because that game is late, right? It’s not an early game?”
Nope. The game will air at noon on the MSG Network and be streamed on BTN2Go.