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Rutgers cruises past South Alabama in season opener victory

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Rutgers women’s basketball head coach C. Vivian Stringer came into her matchup against South Alabama with a total of 499 wins while at the helm of the program, since she first took over for it in 1995.

Thanks to a drubbing handed down by the Scarlet Knights (1-0) on Tuesday night, Stringer was able to reach the milestone mark as Rutgers cruised to its first victory of the year in a 77-56 rout of the Jaguars (0-1).

When looking at the scoresheet, though it is apparent that a few players, in particular, had some noteworthy performances, it is clear that not one singular member of the team can be considered to be the sole reason why the Knights were able to pull out a win against a program that had a .694 winning percentage in 36 games last year.

Rather, there were many explanations for the victory, with one of them having to do with the game that junior guard Arella Guirantes showed up with, for the Tuesday night affair. Guirantes, who ended the night with 27 points and 4 of the team’s 6 three-pointers, led an offense that was lethal for the entire first half and much of the contest itself. 

The first part of the game also saw Guirantes accumulate four rebounds for Rutgers, which would help add to the 22 that the entire Knights team tallied heading into the second half of the matchup.

She was helped out by teammate and graduate student guard Khadaizha “KK” Sanders, who contributed to the win by being a playmaker for the Rutgers team that was grateful to have her back, after an injury-riddled 2018-2019 campaign. Sanders was a force on both sides of the ball, supporting her team with eight assists while also tallying a total of nine defensive rebounds and a team-high three steals for the night. 

Sanders was especially active in the second half for the Knights, as she led the team in minutes with 18 for the latter part of the contest. Sanders was one of the main reasons why the Rutgers offense was as steady as it was for the entire night, which aligns with some of her past performances over the past few years she has been on the court.

Along with these two starters, the Knights’ bench also played a pivotal role in securing the victory for Stringer as they outplayed South Alabama’s in both halves of the game. This is evidenced especially in the fourth quarter, as Rutgers was able to bounce back from a poor third-quarter performance to outscore the Jaguars 25-15. 

Ten of those points came from bench players true freshmen center Maori Davenport, true freshman guard Joiya Maddox and graduate student guard Danielle Migliore.

The three Knights were also successful in each of their attempts from the free-throw line, as Davenport and Maddox went 1-1 while Migliore ended the contest 2-2 for Rutgers. 

With the level of play put on display by the Knights in their first game of the season against a tough opponent like South Alabama, it will be interesting to see what this program does in its home opener on Saturday afternoon against Coppin State. 

The Eagles recently had an exhibition match against Washington Adventist and were led on the offense by Chance Graham, who totaled 32 points for Coppin State in the matchup, and also on the defense by the forward, where she accumulated a total of 10 defensive rebounds and two steals for her team.

Though the Eagles won that game against the Shock, they had five wins and 25 losses last season and are coming to the Banks after a 2-16 record on the road.

While Rutgers should not at all play down to its upcoming opponent, it will be necessary for this program to take care of business on its home court at the Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC).

Stringer received her 500th win against the Jaguars on Tuesday night. It’s time for her players to earn her the 501st this Saturday against Coppin State.

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