Big Ten Quarterfinals
No. 11 Purdue (19-14; 8-10) vs. Rutgers (21-8; 13-5)
How To Watch, Listen, News & Notes
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana
Tip-off: Friday, March 8th at 8:55 p.m. ET
TV: BTN - Lisa Byington, Christy Winters Scott and Vera Jones
Previous Meeting This Season: Rutgers beat Purdue 65-63 in overtime at the RAC.
The Boilermakers won back to back games in Indianapolis, defeating 14th seeded Illinois on Wednesday 72-60, then took out 6th seeded Nebraska on Thursday night by the score of 75-71. It was a wild second day of the Big Ten Tournament, as all four lower seeds won.
Purdue is led by the trio of Karissa McLaughlin, Dominique Oden, and Ae’Rianna Harris. McLaughlin as a First Team All-Big Ten selection this season as a sophomore and is averaging 15.1 points, 3.8 assists, 2.6 rebounds, while shooting 37.9% from three-point range while averaging 2.6 makes from behind the arc per game. Oden averages 14.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.6 assists, and 1.8 steals per contest. Harris is their best post player and averages 13.2 points, 9,4 rebounds, 3.1 blocks and 1.1 steals per game.
Rutgers Big Ten Honors
Senior Stasha Carey was named a Second Team All-Big Ten selection by both the coaches and media earlier this week. She leads Rutgers with 11.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. Carey is seventh in the Big Ten in blocks and eighth in steals, while shooting 51.2% from the field this season.
Redshirt sophomore Arella Guirantes was named an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten selection by both the coaches and media earlier this week. She averages 11.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. Guirantes is coming on strong at the end of the season, as she has averaged 17.5 points in her last five games. She has also been clutch from the free throw line all season, making 59 of 70 attempts for 84.3%.
Acting head coach Tim Eatman helped the Scarlet Knights finish the last week of the regular season with three consecutive wins to earn the third seed in the Big Ten Tournament. Rutgers has never advanced past the Quarterfinals since joining the conference, so a win in this game would push the program forward in the Big Ten.
While head coach C. Vivian Stringer is on a medical leave of absence, the past three victories count on her all-time record. She is now just two wins away from 500 at Rutgers after previously accomplishing 1,000 in her overall career earlier this season.
The Scarlet Knights lead the conference in scoring defense, allowing an average of just 57.2 points per game. They are also tops in steals (10.3), defensive rebounding (32.1), and are second in field goal percentage defense (37.0%).
Keys To Victory
Purdue will be playing its third game in consecutive days and should have tired legs. This is an obvious advantage for Rutgers, who have utilized full court pressure more so under Eatman by rotating players five at a time in order to wear its opponents down. It’s worked well and forced a lot of turnover and poor shots from the opposition. Defense has been this team’s strength all season and if they can bring intensity on that end of the floor, it will make things very difficult for the Boilermakers.
Offensively, Rutgers needs to feed Guirantes on the perimeter and let her attack the basket. Tekia Mack has provided scoring punch off the bench as well and can be dangerous from behind the arc. An x-factor for the Scarlet Knights is freshman guard Zippy Broughton, who scored a career high 19 points last Sunday and is looking much more comfortable playing within the offense. If she can help fill the void left by the dismissal of CC Cryor, Rutgers will be have enough scoring punch to make a legitimate postseason run both this week and in the NCAA Tournament.
Carey has been steady inside all season and needs to help lead the way on the boards. Purdue surprisingly held a +14 rebounding margin in the first meeting, so Rutgers needs to step up in this area. Victoria Harris is the second leading rebounder on the team and will be important in the paint in this game.
Rutgers needs to come out ready to play from the opening tip in hope of establishing an early lead over Purdue. It will be a much tougher task for the Boilermakers to make it a game playing from behind in its third game in a row. Defensive pressure and smart shot selection on the offensive end will be key for Rutgers.
If Rutgers can win tonight, they’ll play the winner of No. 2 Iowa vs. No. 10 Indiana on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET.