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Rutgers women's basketball set to face Northwestern in afternoon showdown

Fifth-year senior guard Arella Guirantes, senior foward Tekia Mack and freshman guard Diamond Johnson combined for 65 points in Rutgers' win against Nebraska. – Photo by Rutgers Women's Basketball / Twitter

Following a dominant victory in its first game back from a month-long hiatus, the Rutgers women’s basketball team will travel to No. 21 Northwestern for a Thursday afternoon matchup.

This is the Scarlet Knights' (6-3, 2-3) first game against a ranked opponent since a loss to No. 14 Maryland earlier in the season. The first scheduled tilt with the Wildcats (11-3, 9-3) fell victim to postponement due to coronavirus disease-related (COVID-19) issues. 

Riding a three-game win streak, Northwestern has lost 1 out of its last 8 games. The Wildcats are led by Lindsey Pulliam, 1 of 30 players named to the Naismith Trophy Women’s Midseason Team.

Another player included in the midseason team is Rutgers' fifth-year senior guard Arella Guirantes. She is a candidate for the Senior Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School (CLASS) Award and has been named Big Ten Player of the Week twice this season.

With two games with more than 30 points scored, Guirantes has 21.9 points per game (PPG), 6.4 rebounds per game (RPG) and three steals per game (SPG). She leads the Knights in each of those categories.

In comparison, Pulliam has logged 16.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 1.3 SPG and leads the team with 36.2 minutes per game. Pulliam is the second-leading scorer in the Northwestern offense, only trailing behind Veronica Burton.

Averaging approximately 18 PPG, Burton is coming off a 19-point performance against Michigan State. In the game against the Spartans (10-5, 5-5), she knocked down 14 out of her 17 shots from the charity stripe.

Leading the Wildcats on the glass with 78 rebounds is Sydney Wood. Although she has started in every game so far, Wood has yet to secure double-digit rebounds in a game. 

Guirantes has crossed that threshold three times this year, and Rutgers' sophomore forward Tyia Singleton did so for her first time in the victory against Nebraska. Second in scoring at Rutgers is freshman guard Diamond Johnson with 18.2 PPG.

The Knights lead the nation with 15.2 SPG. Senior forwards Mael Gilles and Tekia Mack have been active and aggressive on the defensive end this season. Gilles has swiped 25 balls in the year, Mack has 19 and seven players on Rutgers’ roster have more than 11 steals. 

“I think that our foundation is good to the point where we can not have to adjust ... in playing Northwestern,” said head women's basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer. “We can just play the way that we need to play each time that we hit the floor.”

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

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