By Mel Greenberg
PISCATAWAY, N.J. – In a game that could be considered Rutgers’ best gauge of things in the early stage of the season, the Scarlet Knights rallied from a 12-point deficit midway through the first half Thursday night to beat Boston College, 59-53, at the Louis A. Brown Athletic Center.
Rutgers (2-1) had opened the season here Sunday against No. 2 Stanford, the best team in the country not named Connecticut, losing 81-66. That was followed on Tuesday night by a visit from Division III Kean, resulting in an 85-49 victory.
The Eagles (0-2), however, could be considered somewhere in the same long-range forecasts as the Scarlet Knights, giving Rutgers level ground against a quality opponent.
Thus, there was some early concern when Rutgers’ former Big East sister bolted to a 20-8 lead with just over 10 minutes left in the first half.
“I think we were all drinking some slow water today before we finally could get on track,” Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said of the rough start.
However, Eagles junior 6-6 center Carolyn Swords had just gotten her second personal foul, allowing the Scarlet Knights an opportunity when the preseason All-Atlantic Coast Conference player went to the bench.
Rutgers, paced by 6-2 freshman Monique Oliver, went on a 7-0 run and eventually took a slim 27-25 halftime lead to the locker room.
The Scarlet Knights stayed ahead the rest of the way, although they did not get into the safety zone until the final minutes.
“She gets busy right away,” Stringer said of Oliver, who had nine points and four rebounds in 14 minutes of work. “I’ve not had a freshman post player yet who comes in and attacks right away.
“There’s a number of things she does not know yet, but that’s OK, she’s a freshman. But I really love her, I really do. She’s got great hands. Let me promise you, `Mo is going to be a big-time player. There are few players who show up the way she does.”
Stringer credited her vaunted 55 pressure defense for the win, although Boston College coach Sylvia Crawley, the former North Carolina star, cited other factors for Rutgers’ rally.
“I thought the difference was in the first half, they were crashing the boards really hard,” Crawley said. “They had 13 second-chance points to our zero. They had nine offensive points to our zero. They pressured us a little bit. But for the most part the rebounding hurt us more than anything else.”
The Eagles were more forceful on the boards in the second half and out-rebounded the Scarlet Knights for the game, 40-32, including a 19-13 advantage on the offensive boards.
“(Rutgers) is aggressive,” said Crawley, who played on the Tar Heels’ 1994 NCAA champion and once executed a blindfolded dunk shot in an All-Star game in the former American Basketball League in 1997.
“They attack the basket aggressively. Their posts were strong inside. They have some all-Americans out here, even if they are only freshmen. This was good to go up against a mentally-tough team. This is a style of play we face in the ACC almost every game.”
Sophomore April Sykes had her best effort of the season, shooting a game-high 16 points for Rutgers off of making 6-of-12 shots, including 2-of-3 three point attempts.
Senior Brittany Ray added 10 points.
Boston College’s Stefanie Murphy was the lone Eagles player to score in double figures, finishing with 15 points.
Rutgers’ next test comes Sunday when the Scarlet Knights travel to No. 16 Georgia, which is in mourning after the death of UGA VII, the legendary Bulldog mascot (the animal) who passed away suddenly in Savannah, Ga., earlier Thursday, due to heart-related causes.
Temple Roasts Dartmouth
The Owls continued to score and toss defensive heat at the opposition Thursday night, this time beating the reigning Ivy champions.
Next stop is at Buffalo Saturday.
Here is the report off the Temple web site. At this rate, the Guru may help Temple go undefeated by staying away from the scene, though a trip to Hanover would not have been in the cards.
HANOVER, N.H. – With a balanced offensive attack and relentless effort on defense, the Temple women’s basketball team cruised to a 64-38 win at Dartmouth (1-1) to remain undefeated this season at 3-0. The Owls were led by senior Jasmine Stone with a double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds.
Forcing 31 turnovers, Temple came away with a 29-9 edge in points off turnovers. Senior LaKeisha Eaddy led the defensive effort with a career-high eight steals, and Kristen McCarthy tallied four steals. McCarthy was the only other player to score in double figures for the Owls with 10 points, but all nine dressed players put points on the board.
Eaddy and BJ Williams scored nine points apiece, while Natasha Thames, Kristie Watkins-Day and Victoria Macaulay added six points each.
With four steals, an assist and a bucket less than five minutes into the contest, Eaddy set the tone for the Owls early on. By the midway point of the first half, six different Temple players had scored to give the Owls a 12-4 lead.
All nine active players on Temple’s roster had scored by halftime, and the Owls closed the first half on a 9-0 run to take a 32-10 lead. Eaddy led all players with seven points at the break, as well as three assists and an impressive six steals.
Dartmouth’s Michelle Meyer scored back-to-back three-pointers to open the second half, but from there the Owls used an 18-9 run to take a 50-25 lead with seven minutes remaining.
Temple shot 48 percent from the field compared to 25 percent by Dartmouth. The Big Green were led by Brittney Smith with seven points and 11 rebounds.
Temple will return to the court on Saturday in a 2:00 p.m. contest at Buffalo.