Former 5-star recruit and current freshman sensation Diamond Johnson was on fire from long distance on Wednesday night. That was good news for Rutgers, as they won its fourth straight game since returning from a five week pause due to COVID-19. The Scarlet Knights defeated Minnesota 83-56 behind 26 points from Johnson, who made 6 of 7 shot attempts from behind the arc.
Through her first 12 collegiate games, Johnson leads the nation in three-point shooting percentage at 53.7%. She has made 36 of 67 attempts from behind the arc, including a ridiculous 18 of 28 from deep over the past four games. The freshman has a chance to topple the program’s single season record of 48.8% shooting from three held by Rutgers legend Cappie Pondexter. Johnson has sparkled all around for Rutgers so far this season, as she averages 18.6 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.2 steals per contest.
In Wednesday’s victory, Rutgers shot 54.4% from the floor, 56.3% from three-point range and 80% from the free throw line. Head coach C Vivian Stringer’s famed 55 defense was on full display, as RU forced Minnesota into 22 turnovers behind 13 steals. The Scarlet Knights capitalized as they held a dominant 35-9 advantage in points off of turnovers. RU was also +4 on the boards.
Arella Guirantes played well one game removed from a 30 point performance against Purdue last Sunday. She posted 22 points on 8 of 14 shooting, while dishing out 7 assists and grabbing 4 boards.
Tekia Mack had a big night as well, finishing with 12 points on 5 of 9 shooting, as well as 8 rebounds and a career high 8 steals, which tied a single game record at the RAC and was the most by a Rutgers player since 2015. Mack continues to prove she is one of the best defensive players in college basketball.
“We try to mix our defense up, and the last few games, I feel like it wasn’t aggressive enough,” said Mack. “I took the initiative to put the press on (I ran it by Coach first), and we made them play in the backcourt. That’s our basketball and our way of playing defense.”
Mael Gilles finished with 9 points and 5 rebounds. A pair of freshmen, Chyna Cornwell and Sakima Walker each had 4 points off the bench, as did transfer Destiny Marshall.
Rutgers is now 9-3 overall and 5-3 in Big Ten play. They’ll look to extend the winning streak to five when they host last place Illinois Sunday at noon at the RAC, which will air live on BTN.