It wasn’t easy, but the Rutgers women’s basketball team came from behind on Thursday night to defeat Indiana 68-63. The Scarlet Knights trailed by as many as 14 points in the third quarter, but got back into it behind its typical strong defense and 22-9 run heading into the final frame. RU was able to remain unbeaten at home and continue its stranglehold on first place in the Big Ten behind its largest comeback of the season.
Ciani Cryor scored a game high and career high 22 points behind 6 of 12 shooting and 9 of 10 from the free throw line. Her five consecutive points late in the fourth quarter broke the tie and gave Rutgers a lead they never relinquished the rest of the way. She added 4 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 assists in the victory.
Stasha Carey was solid inside once again, scoring 13 points and grabbing 9 rebounds and posting 2 blocks. The third Rutgers player to score in double figures was Arella Guirantes, who was an efficient 5 of 7 from the floor for 12 points, while also pulling down 7 rebounds and blocking 3 shots.
While Noga Peleg Pelc only had one basket in the game, this three-pointer in the third quarter cut the deficit to single digits and sparked the Rutgers comeback.
It was a huge shot on a night Rutgers was just 3 of 13 from three-point range for 23.1%. As a team, it wasn’t one of the better shooting performances for Rutgers, as they made just 8 of 30 shots from the floor for 26.7% in the first half. However, they were much better in the second half, making 14 of 26 shots, finishing at 39.7% for the game. They were solid from the free throw line once again, making 22 of 30 free throws for 73.3%, including 10 of 13 in the fourth quarter.
Indiana outshot Rutgers behind 41.5% from the floor and was a sterling 15 of 16 from the free throw line. However, the Hoosiers committed 20 turnovers behind 11 steals from Rutgers, who held a +5 turnover margin and a 20-14 edge in points off of them. The Scarlet Knights wore Indiana down and held a 18-5 advantage in fast break points. Things were mostly even inside, as Rutgers had just a +2 rebounding margin and +2 edge with points in the paint. The Hoosiers dropped to 16-6 on the season and 5-5 in the conference.
The Scarlet Knights are now 17-4 on the season and 9-1 in Big Ten play with a one game lead atop the standings. They are also 11-0 at the RAC, but will head out on the road for Sunday’s tilt against Minnesota (14-7; 3-7). Tip-off is at 4:00 p.m. ET and you can watch it on BTN Plus with a subscription, or listen live here. After this game, Rutgers will have a full week off before a huge showdown at the RAC against #11/10 Maryland (19-2; 8-2), who are in second place. Rutgers beat the Terps, who were unbeaten at the time, on the road on New Year’s Eve for what was the program’s highest ranked win in a decade. This rematch will play a big part in determining the Big Ten regular season champion. Tickets are available here.