Rutgers, Rutgers women's basketball
(Photo by Mark Carosiello - JSN)

Rutgers Defeats Northwestern in First Round of the Big Ten Tournament

The Rutgers University women's basketball team took the court against the Northwestern University Wildcats in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament on Wednesday, March 1. The Scarlet Knights came away with the win, 63-59.

Freshman sensation, Kaylene Smikle, led Rutgers with 26 points, and Chyna Cornwell followed behind with 15 points and 16 rebounds. Caileigh Walsh led the Wildcats with 24 points and eight rebounds.


Rutgers had a slow start, but by the end of the first quarter, they had the lead. Kaylah Rainey started the scoring for Northwestern with a bucket in the paint. Rutgers' first points came from Smikle a few minutes later to give the Wildcats a two point lead early. The teams went back and forth for a while, but when Kai Carter made a jumper and one for Rutgers, the team took off. The Scarlet Knights proceded to outscore their opponent 12-3 in the final minutes of the quarter to finish leading 20-16.

Rutgers stayed on top of their scoring as Smikle hit a three-pointer in the opening minutes of the quarter. Carter followed with a jumper before Walsh hit a three to stop the Scarlet Knight's scoring streak. Smikle then committed a foul against Paige Mott who went on to make both of her free throws, making the deficit four. Cornwell made a layup to increase their score, but two back to back fouls allowed for Walsh and Sydney Wood to combine for four points. Following the free throws, Rutgers went to outscore Northwestern once again 10-5 in the final minutes of the quarter. Smikle made up eight of those points in the drive. Going into halftime, the Scarlet Knights lead 37-30.

To begin the third quarter, Cornwell made a layup followed by one out of two free throws made for Walsh. Smikle played a huge part as she went on to make two free throws increasing their lead to eight. Caroline Lau returned a jumper for the Wildcats with Walsh putting up a layup right after. Smikle and Cornwell combined for the final few points for the Scarlet Knights. Northwestern tried to close the deficit between the two teams, but Rutgers bounced back each time to make sure they kept their distance. Laya Hartman made the final bucket of the quarter with a three point shot to bring the Wildcats within eight in a 51-43 Rutgers lead.

Mott started the scoring in the final quarter with two made free throws after being fouled by Smikle. Mott followed with another free throw make and a jumper to get the Wildcats within three. Hartman made the tying basket with a three point shot to have it even at 51. Rutgers bounced back with a jumper from Awa Sidibe before Mott tied it up once again with a jumper of her own. Luckily for the Scarlet Knights, Cornwell was fouled twice in a row and made three free throws, giving Rutgers the lead once again. In the final minutes, Walsh made two three-pointers, but it wasn't enough as Carter and Sidibe combined for four points to close out the win. Rutgers won, 63-59.

What’s Up Next for the Scarlet Knights?

Rutgers returns to the court on Thursday, to take on the No. 6 seed, University of Illinois, in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament. Tip-off is scheduled 25 minutes after the completion of game five.

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