Game 10: Rutgers Women’s Basketball at No. 21/20 Northwestern
Credit Source: Rutgers University Athletics
PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Rutgers women’s basketball (6-3, 2-3) hits the road on Thursday, Feb. 11 at No. 21/20 Northwestern (11-3, 9-3) for a 4 p.m. ET tip-off on Big Ten Network.
Despite a 35-day layoff, the Scarlet Knights were locked in during a 78-62 victory over Nebraska in their return to the court on Sunday, leading coast-to-coast with double-digit advantages at the end of all four quarters. RU is ranked No. 19 in the latest NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) rankings, a new selection guide for at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament valuing offensive and defensive efficiency alongside results-oriented data. In December, Rutgers scored 80 or more points in five consecutive games for the first time since 1990-91 and matched that intensity on the defensive end. RU currently leads the nation with 15.2 steals per game while ranking sixth in scoring margin at +23.6.
- The No. 21/20 Wildcats (11-3, 9-3) are nationally ranked in both the media and coaches polls, as well as coming in at No. 22 in the latest NET rankings.
- NU has won seven of its last eight, and three in a row – including a double-digit ranked win over No. 10 Ohio State (69-57). espnW named Northwestern the Team of the Week.
- Veronica Burton made this week’s Big Ten honor roll and leads the squad with 17.9 points per game. In the Ohio State win, the junior posted her third-career double-double and missed a triple-double by one assist with 20 points, a career-high 15 rebounds, nine helpers and four steals.
- Lindsey Pulliam was named the Preseason Media Big Ten Player of the Year and is on the Midseason National Player of the Year Watch List, and has scored 16.6 points per contest through 14 games.
- Rutgers only trails Northwestern in the turnover margin metric in the Big Ten. The ‘Cats rank second nationally with a 9.7 margin. Their nationally fifth-ranked steals per game of 12.6 is behind Rutgers’ country-leading 15.2
NET WORK: On Jan. 4, Rutgers was listed No. 13 in the first-ever NCAA Evaluation Tool rankings, which replace RPI as a guide for selecting at-large bids for the NCAA Tournament. The NET rankings consider Adjusted Net Efficiency (offensive vs. defensive points per possession weighted on quality of opponent) and Team Value Index (results-oriented). Out of action from Jan. 3-Feb. 6 due to a rise in positive COVID-19 tests within the program and the ensuing return-to-play protocol, the Scarlet Knights remain at No. 19 as of Feb. 8 in the NET rankings.
TRIPLE DOUBLE: Arella Guirantes became just the third player in Rutgers history to record a triple-double with 17 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high 11 assists in the win over Manhattan on Dec. 23. It was the first since Khadijah Rushdan in 2011 and just the sixth triple-double performance in the Rutgers record books – Hall of Famer Tasha Pointer recorded four. Guirantes earned a second consecutive and fourth career Big Ten Player of the Week honor following the triple-double.
WATCH OUT: Redshirt senior guard Arella Guirantes, the returning Big Ten scoring champion, was selected the Big Ten Coaches Preseason Co-Player of the Year and was unanimously voted to the Preseason All-Big Ten Team by the coaches and media. She is on five national watch lists: the Wooden Award for Most Outstanding Player, the Naismith Trophy and Wade Trophy for National Player of the Year, a Top 10 semifinalist for the Meyers Shooting Guard Award, and the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year Award.
RANKS: 19th in national scoring (21.9ppg), Only Player to rank Top 5 in Big Ten in scoring, assists, blocks & steals
SHINE ON: True freshman Diamond Johnson, the No. 6 overall recruit in the nation according to ESPN, is one of 10 named to the Nancy Lieberman Award Watch List semifinalists for the country’s top point guard. The Neumann Goretti product earned Rutgers’ first ever Big Ten Freshman of the Week honor on Dec. 21 with 16.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game during a 2-1 week. Johnson has scored in double-figures in all nine of her games and has scored 18 or more in five consecutive contests.
THOU SHALL STEAL: Rutgers leads the country with 15.2 steals per game and is third in the nation in turnover margin at 9.3 through nine games. RU’s 22 steals at Wisconsin were its most in a game since 23 against FDU in 2017 and the most in a conference game since 22 against Penn State in 2015.
THAT’S OFFENSIVE: Rutgers scored 80 or more points in five consecutive games for the first time in the C. Vivian Stringer era “On the Banks” – the first time since the 1990-91 season. The Scarlet Knights rank sixth in the nation in scoring margin through eight games at +23.7, scoring 80.9 points per game (19th in the nation).
WELCOME TO THE B1G: Rutgers is one of the youngest teams in the nation with eight newcomers and 71 percent of the roster starting the season with two years experience or less in Division I. RU is one of just 32 teams across the nation with 10 or more players on the roster with two years experience or less.
FUTURE IS NOW: C. Vivian Stringer and her staff have secured the No. 8 nationally ranked recruiting class for 2020 according to ESPN, led by the signing of No. 6 ranked prospect Diamond Johnson out of Neumann Goretti in Philadelphia, one of four recruits ranked in the Top 55 – Sakima Walker (#21), Chyna Cornwell (#48) and Liz Martino (#53). Blue Star Basketball ranks the class No. 5 in the nation.
- Tekia Mackscored a career-high 26 points in the win over Nebraska on Feb. 7, shooting 8-of-10 on two-point field goals.
• Currently graded .786 from the charity stripe, RU is strongly challenging its single-season free throw percentage record of .734 set during the 1980-81 season.
• RU has outscored opponents in the paint in eight of nine games this season.
• RU is 5-0 with a lead at halftime.
• The Scarlet Knights have outscored opponents by an average of 18.8 in points off turnovers (29.0 – 11.2).
• Rutgers scored 80 or more points in five consecutive games for the first time since the 1990-91 squad scored 80-plus in five straight wins in January of a 23-7 campaign.
• Arella Guirantes has four career 30+ point games, all against Big Ten opponents.
• RU’s 32 forced turnovers vs. SHU were the most in a game since forcing 38 against Penn State in 2014-15.
• Rutgers’ 25 assists vs. Hampton were the most in a game since 25 vs. FDU on Dec. 20, 2017.
• RU’s 87 points against Maryland were the most scored on the Terps since 88 in 1978.
• RU’s 87 points against Maryland were Rutgers’ most in a Big Ten game since joining the conference in 2014-15 … and most in a conference game since 90 vs. Seton Hall in the Big East in 2013.
• Guirantes’ 30+point double-double vs. Maryland was Rutgers’ first since Kahleah Copper had 30 and 10 against St. Joseph’s on Nov. 13, 2015.
• With Diamond Johnson at 18.2 points per game, a look at the Top 5 freshman scoring averages in team history:
- 1. Cappie Pondexter (02-03) – 18.3ppg
- 2. Patti Sikorski (76-77) – 15.8ppg
- T3. Kathy Glutz (76-77) – 15.5ppg
- T3. June Olkowski (78-79) – 15.5ppg
- 5. Sue Wicks (84-85) – 14.9 ppg
- Team: Steals/gm (1st – 15.2)
• Team: Turnover margin (3rd – 9.3)
• Team: Scoring margin (6th – 23.6)
•Diamond Johnson: 3FG% (6th – .478)
• Team: Turnovers forced (6th – 23.7)
• Team: FT% (12th – .786)
• Team: FG% (12th – .475)
•Zipporah Broughton: A/TO Ratio (12th – 3.0)
• Arella Guirantes: FT% (13th – .905)
• Arella Guirantes: Steals/gm (17th – 3.0)
• Team: Blocks/gm (18th – 5.3)
• Team: Scoring offense (19th – 80.9)
• Arella Guirantes: Pts/gm (19th – 21.9)