Tyler Scaife opened the game six for six. And the defense was there.
At the end of one quarter, RU trailed Ohio State by just six in the quarterfinal of the Big Ten Women’s Tournament. But Scaife scored her last points with 8:03 left in the second period and that pretty much ended the Knights’ chances.
Add in an eight minute scoring drought for RU - five minutes to end the half and three to open the third - buried Rutgers. The Knights trailed at the half, 41-26 and could not get on track as the top-seeded Buckeyes pulled away for an 82-57 quarterfinal win over ninth seed Rutgers at Bankers Life Field House in Indianapolis.
If this was to be Tyler Scaife’s last game, she wanted it to be memorable. But the senior led RU’s scoring with just 13 points, six points off her average. And as is mostly the case for the scarlet, as Scaife goes, so goes the team. By comparison, OSU had four players in double-digit scoring, led by Kelsey Mitchell’s 22 and Stephanie Mavunga’s 18. In fact, those four alone outscored Rutgers.
The third quarter, opening with the three minute scoreless spell for Rutgers, just pushed the inevitable farther along. Outscored 28-7 in the quarter, the Knights simply tried to stay in the game. But shooting only 32% didn’t help, nor did the five of 22 from beyond the line. And in a continuing pattern for Rutgers, fouls - and foul shooting - did nothing to help. Rutgers shot 8-11 from the line while the Buckeyes were on the line twice as much, hitting 20-23. Caitlin Jenkins ultimately fouled out for RU.
Jazlynd Rollins and Stasha Carey each had seven points for Rutgers.
Postgame comments from Coach C. Vivian Stringer and Tyler Scaife following Friday's Big Ten quarterfinal game with Ohio State pic.twitter.com/v5yHxMfozq— RVision (@RVisionRU) March 2, 2018
And now the wait
Rutgers sits at 20-12 and an RPI of 39, which may play well in the eyes of the committee. On the flip side is Rutgers’ record to close the season. Down the stretch, RU lost eight of its last ten going into the Big Ten Tournament, where it finished at 1-1.
Rutgers is 6-6 versus RPI Top 50. But it has bad losses to Northwestern - to close the regular season - along with Penn State (RPI 90) and to Washington State (current RPI 105), although admittedly earlier in the season.
If they don’t make the NCAA Tournament, they certainly would be welcomed with open arms by the WNIT. It isn’t a favorite of Vivian Stringer, but continuing to play would be good, and the likelihood of at least one home game for RU is pretty high.