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Rutgers take care of business against Big Ten foe Purdue

Junior wing Kahleah Coppper dropped a game-high 21 points to guide the Knights to their third consecutive win Thursday night against Purdue. – Photo by Tian Li

After its critical home win against Minnesota on Sunday, the Rutgers women’s basketball team followed up with a strong win on the road Thursday night against Purdue. 

The No. 22 Scarlet Knights (15-5, 6-3) battled the Boilermakers (10-10, 3-6) for most of the game before pulling away late in the second half by a score of 58-49. 

The Knights started the game on a strong note, opening with an 11-1 run. They stopped the Boilermakers’ first eight shots from the field, with their first basket coming at 13:10 left in the first half. 

Even with the strong defensive start, Rutgers allowed Purdue back in the game after the Boilermakers went on an 11-0 run on their own, tying the score at 15 at 7:17 in the first half. 

Both teams traded baskets for the remainder of the half, with the Knights holding on to a slight 26-22 lead at the end of 20 minutes. 

At the start of the second half, the Boilermakers raced out on an 8-2 run to take a 30-28 lead at 16:28.

But the Knights answered with an 8-0 run on their own, and held onto the lead for the rest of the game. 

Purdue battled with Rutgers until the end of the contest, but the Knights were able to hold off the Boilermakers and come out with the win. 

Junior wing Kahleah Copper lead the Knights on the stat sheet, posting 21 points, eight rebounds and two assists. Senior forward Betnijah Laney compiled her fifth double-double in Big Ten play, recording 18 points, 14 rebounds, and four assists.

Defensively, the Knights had another impressive outing. After limiting the No. 21 Minnesota to 61 points on Sunday, Rutgers limited Purdue to 41 points on 34 percent shooting from the field. 

Although the Boilermakers rank last in the Big Ten in field goal percentage (29.7 percent) and 12th in scoring offense (67.2 points per game), the Knights were able to capitalize on the Boilermakers deficiencies on the offensive end.

The Boilermakers committed 18 turnovers in the contest, and their top players struggled to operate against the Knights suffocating defensive pressure. 

Purdue guard April Wilson, who averages nearly five assists per game, was limited to only two last night against the Knights.

The Boilermakers as a team managed only eight assists on their 17 made field goals. Conversely, the Knights were able to dish out seventeen assists on their 24 made field goals, displaying a more efficient offensive output than their opponent. 

With another important road win under its belt, Rutgers will look to keep its strong play going against Penn State on Sunday. 

The Nittany Lions feature a team in a similar situation as the Boilermakers, with many of the teams in the Big Ten ahead of them in the standings. 

The Knights will need another win to keep its momentum afloat, and to keep its tournament hopes alive once March rolls around. 

For updates on the Rutgers women’s basketball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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