The Rutgers women’s basketball team opened its season with a convincing 82-38 victory over Monmouth on Friday afternoon. Big Ten Coaches Preseason Co-Player of the Year Arella Guirantes led the way with a complete performance, finishing with 22 points on 7 of 13 shooting, as well as 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocked shots.
The Scarlet Knights trailed 6-2 early on before a 15-2 run put them ahead 17-8 with two minutes remaining in the first quarter. After giving up a basket near the end of the quarter, Rutgers then rattled off 18 straight points to take a commanding 35-10 lead with just over four minutes left in the first half. They went into the break with a 42-14 lead. It was much of the same in the second half, as the heralded freshman class contributed in their collegiate debuts.
Former five-star recruit Diamond Johnson came off the bench to score 15 points in just 20 minutes of action after making 5 of 6 shots, including 3 of 4 from three-point range. Other freshman to make an impact was Liz Martino, who had 7 points, 3 assists and 2 steals, as well as Sakima Walker who tallied 5 points.
Another former five-star point guard, Zippy Broughton, started over Johnson and scored 9 points. Tekia Mack, an All-Big Ten Defensive Team selection from last season, contributed with 9 points, 6 rebounds, 6 steals and 3 assists. Longwood transfer Stephanie Guihon had 4 points on 2 of 2 shooting.
Rutgers led by as many 52 points in the game and shot 50.0% from the floor, while holding Monmouth to just 31.7% shooting. The Scarlet Knights were a stellar 17 of 19 from the free throw line (89.5%) and held a +17 turnover margin, forcing 30 in the game which resulted in a 42-6 advantage with points off of turnovers.
The strangeness of 2020 is apparent for the program, as there are no additional non-conference games scheduled as of yet. Their first Big Ten game is at Wisconsin on December 11, but Rutgers is hoping to play another game before that. Per the press release, “the non-conference slate continues to take shape with COVID-19 health and safety protocols in mind.”