PISCATAWAY, N.J. (November 18, 2010) – With 3.3 seconds left to play in regulation and down by a point, redshirt junior guard Khadijah Rushdan (Wilmington, Del.) hit a big shot to give the Rutgers women’s basketball team its first win of the season, a 54-53 victory over in-state rival Princeton (1-1) on Thursday night at the RAC.
The Scarlet Knight (1-2), who improved to 15-1 all-time against the Tigers, were led by Rushdan, who had a team-high 13 points, and classmate Chelsey Lee (Miami, Fla.) who chipped in 11 points and eight boards.
The two in-state rivals played back and forth basketball to start the game with neither team gaining much of an edge until RU used a 17-8 run to close out the half and enter the locker room with a 35-22 lead. The run was sparked by tenacious defense and a pair of three pointers from sophomore guard Erica Wheeler (Miami, Fla.).
The Tigers came out strong to start the second half using an early 12-0 run to regain the lead at the 11:05 mark. From there, the game returned to its back and forth nature with two ties and seven lead changes occurring in the last 10 minutes of the game.
The final five minutes saw a plethora of lead changes with both teams making big shots. At the 3:51 mark Rutgers regained the lead on a Rushdan jumper. Less than a minute later the Tigers had retaken the lead on an Addie Micir three. RU found itself in the driver seat again at the 2:16 mark when sophomore center Monique Oliver (Las Vegas, Nev.) took the ball under the basket went up strong and got the hoop and the harm, converting a three-point play to put RU ahead 52-51.
The Tigers responded when Lauren Edwards converted a layup with 1:13 remaining to help Princeton pull ahead by one (53-52). After a strong defensive stand the Scarlet Knights had the ball with 12 seconds remaining. Head coach C. Vivian Stringer called the team’s final timeout and drew up a play for Rushdan.
Rushdan took the ball from the inbounds passer dribbled the length of the court and pulled up from 15 feet on the right wing and buried a clutch jumper with 3.3 seconds showing on the clock. Princeton tried to get a shot off but were unable to before the horn sounded sealing the win for the Scarlet Knights.
Rutgers returns to action on Monday, Nov. 22, when they welcome North Carolina A&T to the Louis Brown Athletic Center for a 7:30 p.m. matchup which will air live on KnightVision Broadband.
- With the win, Rutgers moves to 1-2 on the season. The Scarlet Knights have never started a season 0-3 in their 37 seasons of play.
- RU has won the last 14 meetings against Princeton to improve to 15-1 all-time against the Tigers.
- Rutgers improves to 31-6 all-time in home openers including a 12-4 mark under head coach C. Vivian Stringer
- Redshirt junior guard Khadijah Rushdan led the squad in scoring (13 points) for the first time this season and the ninth time in her career. Rushdan scored in double-digits for the 25th time in her career.
- Rutgers improves to 17-8 all-time when Rushdan scores 10+ points.
- Junior forward Chelsey Lee finished the game with 11 points and eight rebounds. This marks the 11th time Lee has scored in double-figures. RU is 6-5 in those contests.
- Rutgers’ 13 point halftime lead (35-22) was its largest halftime lead in 26 games. The Scarlet Knights held a 28-14 advantage over Florida on Dec. 7, 2009. RU went on to win that game 51-38
RUTGERS HEAD COACH C. VIVIAN STRINGER QUOTES
On final play by Khadijah Rushdan:
She was going to take a drive if they backed off. [Princeton] sinks in a lot which created a problem for the post. She was going to her right which is her strength. ‘She said do you want me to drive? I said yes, if it’s there take the drive, if it’s not, stop and pop it’. We’ve been shooting a lot. Even though it didn’t show up, we’ve shot more this year than in some cases.
On the flow of the game:
I thought we had good rhythm at first and then we started to play to create situations on our own which is always bad. I thought in the first two games we played against Cal and Stanford, we let it flow. We found ourselves forcing shots [tonight] and struggling. That happened a number of times and I was disappointed in that. We’re very lucky to pull that one off. I trust that Princeton will win the Ivy League as they did [last year]. The last time we played them, that was there last loss and they had 21 straight wins. They’re not a joke by any stretch of the imagination. Princeton does a great job on the floor.
RUTGERS STUDENT-ATHLETE QUOTES
#1 Redshirt Junior Guard Khadijah Rushdan
On the last play:
The look was to see my options – either drive, kick it to a shooter or try to get it to the inside. The shot was what I had, so that is what I took. It wasn’t necessarily for me to take the shot, but it was for me to create something.
On the second half:
I think it was a matter of us rushing. We had the lead and we wanted to continue to attack as if we were losing or as if the game was close. I think it was a matter of us rushing and trying to do things too quickly.
On getting to the line:
Yes, definitely (we were trying to get to the line). We wanted to try to attack the inside and get them in foul trouble, but also to get free points from the free throw line. I think we got to the line twice at Stanford, and like you said, we’ve been struggling. It was definitely a concern for us.
#52 Junior Forward Chelsey Lee
On opening on their home court:
It was exciting to be playing on the brand new floor. It’s always great to open up at home in front of all our fans. It was a great feeling.
On wearing No. 52:
Yes (I changed it for Eric LeGrand). We came in together freshman year. As freshmen, we lived together during the summer and we got to know each other pretty well. For the past two years – I’m not a football fan – but if I went to the games, I would make sure I talked to him. Every time we see each other around campus, we would speak.
On first half success:
We have the reputation for being a first half team. We have to learn how to carry out our energy, our enthusiasm to the second half. We always seem to die down or let up a little bit in the second half. That is one of the major points we need to improve on.