After an offseason filled with questions about the coaching staff and roster, the Rutgers women’s basketball team came out and handled business, defeating Saint Peter's 59-38 to open its season at Jersey Mike’s Arena on Livingston campus.
The Scarlet Knights (1-0, 0-0) were coached by Timothy Eatman, who was named acting head coach after the announcement that C. Vivian Stringer would not be leading the team this year due to continuing concerns regarding coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In addition, the top five scorers from last year’s team that made the NCAA Tournament are all no longer with the program, and those players were replaced with transfers who made their debut in Piscataway tonight.
The first quarter saw Rutgers show the Peacocks (0-1, 0-0) why they are considered one of the best defensive teams in the nation, forcing nine turnovers and only allowing Saint Peter's to convert on two field goals. The Knights went into the second quarter doubling the Peacocks score, holding a 14-7 lead.
The second quarter saw more of the same action, with Saint Peter's making just 2 of its 13 field goal attempts. Rutgers doubled its opponent's rebounding numbers and extended their lead to 11 going into the half.
The Knights were led in the first half by one of their offseason transfers, as junior guard Awa Sidibe, who spent last season at Salt Lake Community College, set the mark with 4 points after 20 minutes. Senior forward Osh Brown, a Ball State transfer, paced Rutgers with five rebounds.
The second half saw the Peacocks try and fight their way back into the game, going down by 15 before a lengthy 10-1 run that saw Saint Peter's cut the lead to five, the closest they would come to the Knights for the rest of the game.
The final frame saw Rutgers go back to what they do best, forcing 10 turnovers and holding the Peacocks to just 15.4 percent shooting. A late three from sophomore guard Liz Martino put the game away for the Knights, as their 13 point lead would balloon to 19 as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
Martino led Rutgers in scoring, being the only player to reach double digits with her 11 points on the night, along with also leading the team in assists with six. Brown posted a team-leading 11 rebounds to go along with 8 points in her debut for the Knights.
Saint Peter's was plagued with offensive issues, ending the night with 34 turnovers and only shooting 22.2 percent from the field. They were led by Kendrea Williams, a Piscataway native who scored 10 in her return home.
Rutgers has now won its last 11 home games against non-conference opponents. The Knights return to Jersey Mike’s Arena on Livingston campus Friday night, when they face off against South Alabama at 7 p.m.
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