Entering Thursday night’s contest at Michigan, the Rutgers women’s basketball team had held every opponent they faced this season in the previous 25 games below its scoring average. Unfortunately, that streak is over, as the Wolverines shot 53.6% from the field, including making 8 of 11 shots (72.7%) in the fourth quarter to defeat the Scarlet Knights 86-76.
Rutgers played it’s worst defensive game of the season without its head coach C. Vivian Stringer, who stayed in New Jersey due to being sick. Assistant coach Tim Eatman served as acting head coach for this game.
It was a close game for much of the night with Michigan leading 38-36 at the half. However, Rutgers was outscored 23-17 in the third quarter and while they cut the lead down to five points several times, they never got closer than 71-66 with 3:47 remaining in the game.
Rutgers was better offensively, shooting 45.3% from the field and 32% on 8 of 25 shots from three-point range. They lost the rebounding battle (35-29) overall, but held a +1 advantage on the offensive glass, which resulted in a 22-15 edge in second chance points. However, Michigan held an advantage with points in the paint at 48-42. The Wolverines also had a +1 turnover margin and 23-18 edge in points off of them.
Michigan was led by Naz Hillmon, who led all scorers with 21 points. Both Nicole Munger and Hallie Thome scores 16 points while Deja Church added 11 points.
Rutgers was led by Charise Wilson, who scored 14 points on 5 of 9 shooting, including 4 of 7 from three-point range. She added 3 rebounds and an assist. Stasha Carey remained steady inside, scoring 13 points on 5 of 8 shooting, grabbing 6 rebounds and adding 2 assists. Arella Guirantes also scored 13 points on 5 of 13 shooting and added 3 rebounds. CC Cryor had 8 points but struggled making just 3 of 12 shots. However she did dish out a team high 8 assists as well as 3 steals and 3 rebounds.
With the loss to Michigan (19-9; 10-6), Rutgers now holds just a half game lead over the Wolverines for third place in the Big Ten. The Scarlet Knights are now 10-5 in league play and 18-8 overall this season. They’ll look to finish the season strong but will be without senior forward Caitlin Jenkins, who missed the previous five games due to suspension after being arrested earlier this month. It was announced in the game notes that she has now been dismissed from the team. The Scarlet Knights are just 1-4 in the past five games since Jenkins hasn’t played. Rutgers has three regular season contests remaining and are back in action Monday, February 25th at the RAC against Wisconsin (13-14; 4-11).