The Rutgers women’s basketball team took care of business in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament on Friday night. The third seeded Scarlet Knights faced 11th seeded Purdue who was playing its third game in as many days. The relentless full court pressure of the Rutgers defense wore Purdue down in the fourth quarter, outscoring them 19-8 to break open up what was a close game most of the way leading up to the last frame. The final score was 64-49 and the Scarlet Knights are headed to the semifinals for the first time since the program joined the Big Ten five seasons ago.
Stasha Carey and Arella Guirantes, both All-Big Ten selections earlier this week, led the way for Rutgers. Carey had a game high 17 points on 6 of 11 shooting and grabbed 9 rebounds as well as 2 steals. Guirantes scored 15 points on 5 of 12 shooting, as well as 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 steal. In addition, Victoria Harris had 4 points on 2 of 6 shooting, but dominated the glass, pulling down a game high 14 rebounds, as well as dishing out 4 assists. Charise Wilson added 9 points, 3 assists, and 1 steal.
Rutgers held Purdue to 13 points below its season average and just 26.8% shooting from the floor. The Boilermakers committed 15 turnovers and the Scarlet Knights held a 14-8 advantage with points off of them. While it was even on the boards at 41 apiece, Rutgers held a 34-20 edge with points in the paint. Also, the RU bench outscored Purdue 16-0. Overall, the Scarlet Knights shot just 39.7% from the floor and only 10 of 18 from the foul line for 55.6%. However, it was their defense once again that was the difference and their two best players leading the way on offense.
This was the second straight year that Rutgers defeated Purdue in the Big Ten Tournament.
Give acting head coach Tim Eatman and the rest of the coaching staff a lot of credit, as Rutgers is now 4-1 since C. Vivian Stringer stepped away from the team due to health reasons. Four consecutive wins has strengthened the Scarlet Knights NCAA Tournament resume and they appear to be in great shape to earn the program’s first berth in four seasons. These past four wins do still count for Stringer and she is has 499 wins in her Rutgers tenure after tonight’s victory.
Now No. 3 Rutgers (22-8; 13-5) will take on No. 2 Iowa (24-6; 14-4) on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. The Scarlet Knights lost at Iowa in their lone meeting this season on January 24th by the score of 72-66. It would be ironic if Rutgers can beat the Hawkeyes on Saturday, as it would be Stringer’s 500th victory on the banks, where she arrived after leaving Iowa. She has taken both programs to the Final Four, as well as Cheyney State, leaving Stringer as the only women’s coach to ever accomplish such a feat.
Top seeded Maryland will play 4th seeded Michigan at 5 p.m. ET in the other semifinal. Both games will be shown live on BTN. The winners will meet in the championship game on Sunday at 6:00 p.m. and will aired live on ESPN2.