Six Straight! No. 25 Women’s Hoops Stops the Spartans on the Road
Scarlet Knights outscore Michigan State, 24-7, in the fourth quarter to claim its sixth consecutive win by double-digits
Credit Source: Rutgers University Athletics
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Rutgers women’s basketball (11-3, 7-3) outscored Michigan State, 24-7, in the fourth quarter to secure a 63-53 victory on the road at the Breslin Center on Wednesday evening, marking the sixth consecutive double-digit win by the Scarlet Knights following their five-week hiatus.
The victory currently places the Scarlet Knights in the Top 4 of the Big Ten Conference, which if it holds, would secure a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament in March in Indianapolis. Rutgers has two games remaining the regular season schedule, barring possible makeup games from the aforementioned hiatus.
Diamond Johnson, on a hot streak of her own, surpassed 20 points for the third-straight game, dropping 22 to go with four assists, a blocked shot, and four steals. Arella Guirantes was not herself from the field (3-of-15), but holding true to being the total package and team player, led her team to victory with a near-triple-double of 11 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Tyia Singleton locked down the defensive paint, blocking a career-high five shots and securing six rebounds.
The Scarlet Knights used a 10-0 run to start the fourth quarter to set a dominating theme to close the game. The Spartans (12-7, 7-7) turned the ball over eight times in the final period and shot 2-of-11 (.182). Guirantes found her shot at the right time, converting a layup and nailing a three-pointer in the opening two minutes of the fourth before Tekia Mack, Mael Gilles and Johnson capped the 10-0 rally that ended up deciding the game.
“There was a resolve and a mindset that we were going to find a way to get it done,” head coach C. Vivian Stringer. “We had to play in the 55 quite a bit and it took a lot of guts. We were in great condition and it showed up. Michigan State was exhausted and we survived and stayed the course. It was gutsy play on our part and that’s what it took. This is championship-level play.”
Powered by the seven points allowed in the fateful fourth quarter, Coach Stringer’s patented defense allowed less than 60 points in a fifth consecutive conference game. That is the first streak of its kind in Big Ten play and the first time in conference competition since 2012-13 in the Big East. The Scarlet Knights held Michigan State’s leading scorer, Nia Clouden (19.2 points per game), to eight points on 1-of-14 shooting.
Freshman Liz Martino helped keep the game close in the first half, hitting 3-of-3 from deep for her nine points all coming during the second quarter. The Spartans led by nine with three minutes left in the second. The Scarlet Knights chipped away as Mack looked to have cut the deficit to five and possibly less as she finished a layup through traffic with 1.1 seconds left, but the basket was waived off due to a clock operation error that never started the time out of the dead ball.
RU exploded out of the locker room with an 8-0 comeback rally, sparked by heads-up passing from Guirantes and Johnson, who each had two assists during the four-basket run. Mack converted two buckets, and Gilles finished a cutting layup to hand RU its first lead since 2-0 at 36-35 midway through the third. MSU would take the lead right back with an 8-0 run of its own, leading 46-39 at the end of three.
Rutgers outshot MSU, 44 to 33 percent, while holding another significant lead in points off turnovers, 24-9. RU survived the Spartans’ 41-31 advantage on the boards, which included 18 offensive rebounds leading to 13 second chance points.
The Scarlet Knights play another Big Ten road game on Sunday, Feb. 28 at Penn State, tipping off at 12:30 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network.
- Rutgers held its fifth Big Ten foe in a row under 60 points. That is the longest streak in league play since the 2012-13 squad did it five times consecutively in the Big East.
- Liz Martino scored a career-high nine points on 3-of-3 shooting from three-point range.
- Diamond Johnson has made 24 consecutive free throws (5-of-5 at MSU), and has not missed since at Wisconsin on Dec. 11.
- Diamond Johnson scored 20+ points in a third consecutive game, her sixth career 20+ points game. She has scored in double-figures in all 14 games of her collegiate career.
- Tyia Singleton set a new career high with five blocks.
- Tekia Mack grabbed two steals and continues to rank third in the nation with her 3.5 steals per game.
- Arella Guirantes has 1,591 career points, the 12th most of any player to wear the Scarlet Knights uniform.
- RU leads the Big Ten with 55.8 points allowed per game and a 22.3 average scoring margin.
- RU has outscored opponents in the paint in 13 of 14 games this season.
- RU outscored MSU in points off turnovers, 24-9. The Scarlet Knights have outscored opponents in points off turnovers by an average of 16.5 this year.
- The all-time series evens at 6-6, and tightens in Big Ten regular season play with MSU ahead 5-4. MSU falls to 4-2 when the series is played in East Lansing.
- Holding the Spartans under their scoring average of 77.4, Rutgers has accomplished that feat in 13 of 14 games this season and in 99 of its last 108 since the start of the 2017-18 season.
- C. Vivian Stringer rolled out the Starting Five of Diamond Johnson, Arella Guirantes, Mael Gilles, Tekia Mack and Tyia Singleton for the seventh time this season in consecutive games.