The Rutgers women’s basketball team began a crucial three game home stand on Saturday against Ohio State. With the regular season winding down and the Scarlet Knights on the NCAA Tournament bubble, they turned to its leader and best player to save the day. Junior Arella Guirantes scored a career high 36 points, including a game winning jumper to break a tie with four seconds remaining in the game. RUtgers defeated the Buckeyes 59-57.
After trailing by 6 points entering the fourth quarter, Guirantes scored 13 points in the final frame on 6 of 7 shooting to lead the comeback.
Guirantes has had an incredible season and came into the game averaging over 19 points per contest. However, Saturday was her best performance of the season and her career. She made 15 of 21 shots from the floor, including a perfect 3 of 3 from three-point range. It was the most points scored by a Rutgers player since Cappie Pondexter scores 40 points in 2006 against South Florida. Guirantes added 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and a block. A sure fire First Team All-Big Ten performer this season delivered a signature game.
No other Rutgers player scored in double figures in the game. Jordan Wallace has 9 points and 6 rebounds, while Tekia Mack had 6 points, 6 rebounds and 3 steals.
Per a press release, head coach C. Vivian Stringer said “This was a team win, for sure, and Arella was in a special kind of zone. Look at those percentages. She took big time shots. Our backs were against the wall, this was a must-win and we did it together.”
The Rutgers defense continues to be a major factor this season as well. The Buckeyes didn’t make a field goal on 12 shot attempts in the fourth quarter and scored just 7 points, all from the free throw line. Overall, the Scarlet Knights held Ohio State to 36.7% shooting, held a +7 turnover margin, as well as 18-9 edge in points off of turnovers and a 30-16 advantage with points in the paint.
Rutgers improved to 19-8 on the season and 9-7 in Big Ten play, sitting currently in sixth place. The Scarlet Knights now own the head to head tiebreak over Ohio State (17-10; 10-6), who remain a game ahead in fifth place of the Big Ten standings. The Buckeyes had an RPI ranking of 21 entering the game, making it the best win of the season for RU. Rutgers now has an RPI ranking of 45.
Winning this game was hugely important in staying on course for the NCAA Tournament. Splitting the last two games of the regular season is a must to maintain a solid position ahead of conference tournament play. The Scarlet Knights host Wisconsin (11-17; 3-14) on Thursday night before hosting no. 19 Iowa (22-5; 13-3) in the regular season finale next Sunday.