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Rutgers women’s basketball wins Junkanoo Jam Championship

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The Scarlet Knights earned two high major victories to move to 6-1 on the season.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 20 Women’s Michigan State at Rutgers Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Rutgers women’s basketball team had a big Thanksgiving weekend in the Bahamas, as they claimed the Junkajoo Jam Championship with victories over Vanderbilt (5-3) and Georgia Tech (5-1). After losing its first game on the road to LSU on November 24th by the score of 64-58, the Scarlet Knights responded well at the holiday tournament.

On Thanksgiving, Rutgers overcame an 11 point deficit in the first quarter to defeat Vanderbilt 62-56. Tekia Mack scored a game high 20 points on 8 of 15 shooting, as well as 5 rebounds and 2 steals. Arella Guirantes continued to display her all-around game, contributing 18 points despite just 6 of 18 from the floor, as well as 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocks. Point guard KK Sanders produced the highlight of the game on her way to 14 points on 5 of 10 shooting with this halfcourt buzzer beater.

Despite having a poor shooting performance (43.6% overall), particularly from three-point range (2 of 11 for 18.2%) and the free throw line (12 of 23 for 52.2%), Rutgers held Vandy to just 33.3% from the floor.

This past Saturday, Rutgers defeated Georgia Tech in a defensive battle by the score of 46-43. Arella Guirantes played all 40 minutes to lead the Scarlet Knights with 19 points on 7 of 14 shooting, along with 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 block. She was named the Tournament MVP.

Tekia Mack was the only other RU player to score in double figures, finishing with 10 points on 4 of 8 shooting, 5 rebounds and 2 steals. Mack was named to the All-Tournament team.

Mael Gilles was the unsung hero of the game, pulling down 9 rebounds, including two from the offensive glass that helped pull out the win.

While Rutgers continued to struggle shooting wise (35.3% FG; 1 of 14 for 7.1% 3-pt FG; 9 of 21 FT’s for 42.9%), they held GT to 32% from the floor and 10% from behind the arc. RU held a 32-28 edge with points in the paint and overcame a 6 point deficit in the second quarter to secure the victory. It was the first loss of the season for Georgia Tech, who were held 33 points below its season scoring average in the defeat.

Head coach C. Vivian Stringer had this to say after winning the Tournament:

“This kind of win demonstrates what kind of poise this team has. Nerves got the better of us sometimes with the quick turnaround, but we never gave up and figured out what we needed to do. We got our stops and came up big on some offensive rebounds late in the game. I thought all of our coaches did an amazing job. We stayed up quite late and had this team prepared. There’s no question that we were ready for this game.”

Rutgers is now 6-1 and will host Virginia (4-4) in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Thursday, December 5th at 6 p.m. at the RAC. The game will be shown live on BTN.