Rutgers Scarlet Knights women's basketball
Photo by Shaquan Woody

Rutgers prove they’re a sleeping giant in loss to #16 Indiana

Before Saturday's contest, there was a ton of anticipation surrounding this game. The matchup proved to be the most electrifying and exciting game this season due to the energy and support from the fans. Although the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (6-6) fell short against the #16 Indiana Hoosiers (8-1), 66-56, a bigger message was sent to opposing schools and universities around the country. In so many words, the Scarlet Knights may have lost the battle, however they may have won the war. 

“The crowd was phenomenal, it’s one of the reasons when I had the opportunity to accept this job I knew playing in this building it would be an amazing basketball environment,” Rutgers head coach Coquese Washington emphasizes. “The crowd was great, especially in the second half after a couple of big stops. The explosion from the crowd was felt by our bench and our team.”

Despite the Scarlet Knights being a young team, some believe that they’re loaded with potential talent to compete with some of the top schools in the country. On Saturday, the Scarlet Knights only solidified that sentiment. For example the Hoosiers came in averaging 81 points per game. The Scarlet Knights managed to hold them to significantly less than their usual and held them to just three three-point shots all game. Naturally, this game is going to wake many up and help them understand although Rutgers is a building program, they’re drastically improving and playing much differently than some past teams.

“Tonight, I was very pleased with our defensive effort, however we still have to get a little tighter on our offensive execution,” Washington continues.

Some Standouts for the Scarlet Knights

Rutgers has relied on their bigs to help build the identity of this young team. That said, junior forward Destiny Adams and grad student center Kassondra Brown managed to nearly secure double-doubles. Both ended in double-digit scoring and each of them recorded eight rebounds among one of the best centers in the country, Mackenzie Holmes. Another standout, sophomore guard Antonia Bates recorded her season-high 11 points while pitching in on the defensive side with two blocks as well. 

“I’m not surprised because she’s been working hard in practice,” Washington explains about Brown’s effort and impact. “I think her and Chyna [Cornwel] are a great combination and some nights one will stand out more than the other. Nonetheless, it’s a tremendous luxury we have to be able to play them and there’s no drop off in production.”

Unfortunately, the Scarlet Knights struggled rebounding tonight which led to many second-chance opportunities on the opposite end of the floor. Thankfully, sophomore guard Kaylene Smikle had it going and found her rhythm early in the game. It appeared when the Knights needed a play on the offensive end it stemmed from Smikle’s aggressiveness or shooting abilities. Ultimately, she ended the game with 19 points. While there were positives to build upon, the Knights have work to do moving forward as their schedule only begins to get harder.

“We know the Big Ten is going to be tough, it’s just not going to be any easy nights,” Washington explains. “It doesn’t matter what the records or rankings are, it’s going to be a battle. However, I think our team is mentally and emotionally ready for the challenges that are to come and I think you saw that tonight.”

What’s Next for Rutgers?

The Scarlet Knights are set to play on the road at Princeton on Wednesday at 7 p.m.  

Rutgers will then return to Jersey Mike’s Arena to host No. 15/13 Virginia Tech on Sunday. Tip-off is set for 5:30 p.m. and the contest will be available to watch on FS1. 

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