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RU WBB: Rutgers Bounced From WNIT


Rutgers WBB head coach C. Vivian Stringer (Photo - DoubleGSports)

Rutgers WBB head coach C. Vivian Stringer (Photo – DoubleGSports)

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The free-throw line was anything but free for the Rutgers women’s basketball team Sunday afternoon as they lost 71-55 to the University of Virginia in the second round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament at the Rutgers Athletic Center.

Rutgers (19-15) trailed at halftime 32-25 and was 1-for-8 from the charity stripe. If they made all eight, they would have held a one-point advantage. Senior guard/forward Kahleah Copper, playing in her final game of her outstanding college career, was 1-of-7 from the line in the first two quarters after bucketing 9-of-10 in Thursday night’s victory over Georgetown. The Philadelphia, Pa. native is usually money from the foul line shooting 70 percent coming in, but finished 5-for-13.

“I think it was all mental,” said Copper after she completed her final game with 19 points. “I started to think about it too much.”

Rutgers finished the contest 8-for-22 from the foul line as a team (36 percent).

On the other other side, the Cavaliers were 6-for-6 in the opening two quarters and was 9-for-9 at one point in the third quarter before Breyana Mason missed her attempt after a made layup and the foul.

They finished the game 18-for-24 and nine of those makes came from Faith Randolph, a senior guard who exploded for a game-high 23 points on 7-for-12 from the floor and was perfect from the three-throw line.

Rutgers beat Virginia back in November as part of the 2015 Paradise Jam 60-48, but this time Virginia shined and led by as many as 22 points in the third quarter. On Nov. 27, Virginia shot 28 percent. On Sunday, they shot 45 percent (25-55) with four players in double figures. Another type of flip-the-script stat, at the Paradise Jam, the Scarlet Knights led for 33 minutes and 31 seconds while Virginia led for just over a minute. This time, Virginia held the advantage for 33 minutes and eight seconds, and out-rebounded Rutgers 43 to 26. And once they opened the third quarter with a 9-2 run, that was all she wrote.

But how do you move past this forgettable game and move onto next season?

“I think the best way to move on from this is to pretend that we didn’t (play the game),” head coach C. Vivian Stringer visibly disappointed said postgame. “For whatever reason we were hurt. We were hurt in our minds, we were hurt in numbers, and we played like we (couldn’t) have cared less. We should have just taken a forfeit. I thought that (Virginia) came out to play.”

Rutgers center Rachel Hollivay utilized her presence inside in the first round against Georgetown with 22 points on 9-for-12 shooting. But the Cavaliers focused on her as she only totaled eight points on 3-of-4 shots. In turn, Rutgers, who is not a 3-point shooting team by any means especially with specialist Cynthia Hernandez out for the past few months, went 3-for-15 from behind the arc.

“I thought they doubled down and came to her (Hollivay) much quicker,” Stringer said. “But the problem is…we just decided to go ahead and take jumpers and shot 3-for-15 instead of driving and attacking the rim. That’s not what we wanted.”

Copper, Hollivay, Briyona Canty, Ariel Butts, and Hernandez will be gone next season, but the Scarlet Knights return a younger group and junior guard Tyler Scaife who will be a senior.

Rutgers guard Tyler Scaife dribbling against Nebraska at the RAC earlier this season (Photo - J.R. Martinez, DoubleGSports)

Rutgers guard Tyler Scaife dribbling against Nebraska at the RAC earlier this season (Photo – J.R. Martinez, DoubleGSports)

Copper, who finished her career at Rutgers third on the all-time scoring list (1,872 points) just behind Sue Wicks and Cappie Pondexter received a  standing ovation with about 30 seconds in the game as she exited the RAC floor as a Scarlet Knight for the last time. The same goes with Hollivay, the school’s all-time leader in blocked shots (332), as she left a few seconds later.

“It’s definitely going to be different next year, but we gotta do what we gotta do to be successful next year,” said Scaife, who finished with 13 points. “We’re going to miss them, but we have to step up and do what we have to do.”

And while she is one of the leaders on the team already, being a senior only elevates that role to another level, as well as to help start a new culture.

“Definitely,” Scaife said about being a senior leader. “Like coach told me earlier, we have to start a different culture.”

Stringer added: “Her (Scaife) temperament won’t allow (a game like) this to happen,” said Stringer, who finished up her 21st season at the helm “On the Banks”. “So, we’re going to step it up. You’re going to see a different culture. You’re going to see a lot of things different real soon.”

Watch the video of the press conference below:



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