The Rutgers women’s basketball team finished the regular season on a three game winning streak, all coming at home, and saved the best for last on Sunday at the RAC. On senior day, the Scarlet Knights defeated no. 18/20 Iowa for the first time in 14 years and Inotched its first win against a ranked opponent this season. It was a 78-74 overtime victory that sends RU into the postseason on a high note and playing its best basketball to date.
Rutgers held a +13 rebounding margin, including 22 offensive boards that led to a 13-7 advantage in second chance points. RU also held a +7 turnover margin, as well as a 32-26 advantage with points in the paint.
Senior point guard KK Sanders tied career highs with 17 points and 6 steals in her last game ever at the RAC, while also adding 4 assists and 3 rebounds. She was 4 of 4 from the foul line in the final 34 seconds of overtime to seal the victory.
Juniors Arella Guirantes and Tekia Mack scored 17 points as well. Guirantes struggled offensively, shooting just 6 of 18 from the floor, but she turned in on in OT, concerting a three-point play the hard way as well as making a huge shot from behind the arc. She continues to contribute in every way and added 4 rebounds, 4 blocked shots and 2 steals. Mack added 6 rebounds and 3 steals.
Mael Gilles has a double-double off the bench, scoring 13 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, while adding 3 assists and 2 steals.
The two other seniors on the team aside from Sanders are starting center Jordan Wallace and reserve guard Danielle Migliore. Wallace had 4 points, 10 rebounds and 2 steals, while Migliore was 1 of 3 from three-point range for 3 points.
“That’s a great team we played, and we couldn’t be happier with the win,” said head coach C. Vivian Stringer, who recorded 269 victories as Iowa’s head coach from 1983 – 1995. “It’s been a monkey on our back, so it was great to do what we needed to do today.”
Iowa was ranked 8th in the RPI rankings entering the contest, making it the best win of the season for the Scarlet Knights, who were 46 before Sunday’s game. In fact, three of its past four victories were its highest ranked wins of the season, as they also beat Ohio State (23) and Michigan (31).
Rutgers finished the regular season with a 21-8 record overall and 11-7 in Big Ten play. They held the tiebreaker in a three way tie with Michigan and Ohio State and earned the no. 5 seed in this week’s Big Ten Tournament. They’ll play the winner of Illinois (11-18; 2-16) vs. Wisconsin (11-18; 3-15) in the second round on Thursday, March 5 at approximately 2:30 p.m. The Scarlet Knights swept both teams in four combined regular season meetings. The winner of that game will face no. 4 seed Indiana (23-7; 13-5) who RU lost to 66-56 on New Year’s Eve at the RAC.