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Rutgers women's basketball earns first Big Ten victory under Coquese Washington with win over Nebraska

First-year head coach Coquese Washington earned her first Big Ten victory for Rutgers women's basketball in front of Hall of Fame coach Theresa Grentz. – Photo by @RutgersWBB / Twitter

The Rutgers women’s basketball team earned their first in-conference victory with a 57-45 win over Nebraska. The Scarlet Knights (7-10, 1-4) dominated the Cornhuskers (10-6, 2-3) on a day celebrating Hall of Fame coach Theresa Grentz.

The first quarter started off with low scoring from both teams. At the 2:06 mark, senior center Kassondra Brown hit a layup to make the score 10-5 in favor of Rutgers and that score would remain as the opening quarter came to a close.

The Knights scored the first two baskets of the second quarter with layups from junior forward Chyna Cornwell and freshman guard Kaylene Smikle. Nebraska would get the score to 14-11 off of 6 straight points, including two baskets from guard Sam Haiby.

For the rest of the half, Rutgers would outscore the Cornhuskers 16-9. From the 1:41 mark onwards, the Knights went on a 9-1 run off of multiple three-pointers, two from Smikle and one from freshman guard Antonia Bates. Bates was perfect on both of her three-point field goals in the second quarter. Rutgers led Nebraska 30-20 at halftime.

The Cornhuskers tried inching their way back in the third quarter and lessened their deficit to 6 points at the 5:42 mark. Smikle quickly answered with two free throws and a three-point shot. By the end of the third quarter, the Knights led 45-31.

Senior guard Kai Carter set the tone for the rest of the game with a three-pointer to open the third quarter. At the 7:36 mark of the final quarter, Rutgers had its biggest lead of the day when it led by 19 points. At this point, the Knights were up 52-33.

Nebraska ended a 0-for-21 drought from the three-point arc after guard Maddie Krull sunk a long shot. It was too little too late for the Cornhuskers as they fell to Rutgers by 12 points when the final buzzer sounded.

Overall, Nebraska had an abysmal 8 percent shooting percentage from the three-point arc. On the other hand, the Knights had a 33 percent success rate from three. Rutgers had a 36.8 success rate from the field while the Cornhuskers had a 28.3 field goal percentage. The Knights hit an impressive 81.8 percent of their shots from the free throw line with Nebraska only hitting 56.3 percent of its shots from the stripe.

Smikle once again led Rutgers in points with 20. It was her seventh contest scoring at least 20 points. Cornwell and senior guard Awa Sidibe also had notable efforts in the victory. Cornwell led the Knights in rebounds with 12 and added 8 points to the score sheet. Sidibe led the team with five assists along with 7 points and two big blocks.

First-year head coach Coquese Washington secured her 99th Big Ten conference victory and her first with Rutgers.

The Knights will look for consecutive conference victories when it faces off against Minnesota at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, Minnesota next Thursday. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. with the game being broadcasted on the Big Ten Network as well as 88.7 WRSU-FM.

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

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