The Rutgers women’s basketball team has been dominant starting the season.
In the first matchup of the year against South Alabama, the final score was 77-56, a 21-point margin of victory for the Scarlet Knights (4-0). In the following game against Coppin State, Rutgers won by 74 points and reached the century mark in the 107-33 victory.
The Knights also picked up wins in their next two contests, scoring 50 and 28 points more than Niagara and Harvard, respectively.
On Sunday night, Rutgers will look to extend that success into Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where the program will face Louisiana State (LSU) in its fifth contest of the year.
Though the Tigers (4-1) have enjoyed success early on, it seems as though the Knights should be able to handle their opponent. While LSU has won 4 of its 5 games to start the year and is certainly a credible foe for a fairly untested Rutgers team early on in the season, some of the Tigers’ weaknesses have shown in each of their four contests to start the year.
In LSU’s second matchup of the year, the team was able to dominate New Orleans for the beginning three quarters of the game. The Tigers scored 11 more points than the visiting team in the first and second periods, and were able to keep that momentum going in the third, outscoring their opponent 23-16 to open the second half.
Come the fourth quarter, though, LSU seemed unable to keep that level of dominance going as it was only able to outscore the Privateers by 5 points in the final 15 minutes of play.
Though the effort ultimately resulted in a victory for the Tigers, the trend of having an inconsistent four quarters of play has remained constant throughout the rest of their games played this season.
In the program’s next matchup against Florida State, the LSU was able to hold a 17-15 and 20-23 point lead in the first two periods of play, only to give it up in the second half after getting outscored 35-22 in the remaining two quarters of the game. The afternoon ended in a 70-62 win for the Seminoles.
And in their games against Little Rock and Tulane, though the Tigers were ultimately able to come out on top in the 65-50 and 59-54 victories, respectively, LSU was outscored by its opponent in at least one of the quarters in each game.
If the Knights wish to continue its spell of dominance into this weekend, head coach C. Vivian Stringer will need to recognize this trend.
Rutgers is coming into the upcoming game with a 3-1 record against the Tigers over the past 10 years, and will need to rely on some key members of their starting core to take advantage of the aforementioned weaknesses to improve upon that record.
Junior guard Arella Guirantes will seek to contribute by continuing her strong offensive play on the court. She is averaging 21.8 points per game this year, with 19 of her 87 points coming in the team’s most recent game against the Crimson.
Junior forward Tekia Mack will also hope to shut down LSU by using the defensive abilities that she has demonstrated in the first few contests for the Knights. She has totaled 31 rebounds this year with 22 coming on the defensive end.
The Tigers will not be a team that Rutgers is going to underestimate when it comes to skill. LSU has it, and has certainly shown it throughout the early part of the season so far. For the Knights to put up another large-margin-of-victory win, though, they will need to exploit the Tigers' deficiencies that have become apparent in the first few contests that they have taken part in.
The ability to do so would result in the first 5-0 start to the season since 2014-15, the year Rutgers was inaugurated into the Big Ten.