The Rutgers women’s basketball team is in dire need of a bounce-back win after dropping three straight games. The Scarlet Knights’ (8-13, 2-7) schedule won’t get any easier as they will face Penn State and Indiana this coming week.
Conference woes have significantly hurt Rutgers. After returning to their Big Ten schedule with back-to-back losses to the Nittany Lions (12-8, 3-6) and Maryland, the Knights defeated Nebraska and Minnesota in what appeared to be the start of a season turnaround.
But after the win against the Golden Gophers (9-11, 2-7), Rutgers fell to the Terrapins (16-4, 7-2), Michigan and Michigan State. In their last three losses, the Knights trailed by more than 20 points or more when the final buzzers sounded.
On December 30, Rutgers fell to Penn State 90-72. Since then, the Nittany Lions have gone 2-4 with an overall conference record of 3-6.
Penn State averages 73.5 points per game (PPG) while allowing opponents to score 68.7 PPG. The Nittany Lions currently own a 43.7 percent field goal percentage, a 35 percent three-point percentage and a 70.4 free throw percentage.
Guard Makenna Marisa leads Penn State with a PPG of 17.9, which puts her sixth in the nation in that category. Guards Shay Ciezki and Leilani Kapinus follow Marisa with 11.4 and 11.3 PPG, respectively. Marisa and Ciezki are three-point threats. Both players are the only shooters on the team with at least 40 three-pointers made on the season, and Kapinus leads the team with an average of six rebounds a game.
Though this season the team has been struggling, and the Knights have found success against the Nittany Lions in the past. In the first round of last season’s Big Ten tournament, Rutgers took down Penn State by a score of 75-50. While the Knights only brought back three players from last year’s roster, a win against the Nittany Lions is definitely in the cards.
On the other hand, the No. 6 Hoosiers (17-1, 7-1) will be a more difficult opponent for Rutgers. As of January 23, Indiana is second in the conference, 13th in the nation for an average of 81.2 PPG and second in the nation with a field goal percentage of 50.3.
Defense is the Hoosiers' biggest strong suit, as the team allows the least amount of PPG in the Big Ten, only allowing its opponents to score an average of 58.6 PPG.
Forward Mackenzie Holmes is second in the conference and in the top 10 across the nation in PPG with a 21.7 average. Guard Yarden Garzon is the next woman up in PPG with 12.4, while guard Sydney Parrish scores 12.3 PPG and guard Grace Berger nets 11.8 PPG.
Before Indiana faces off against the Knights, it will play against the No. 13 Wolverines (16-3, 6-2). Rutgers lost to Michigan last Thursday at home by a score of 81-58.
The Knights return to Jersey Mike’s Arena on Thursday with a tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m. to play Penn State. Afterward, Rutgers will travel to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana on Sunday with the tip-off scheduled for 2 p.m. to go up against the Hoosiers. Both games will be broadcasted on Big Ten Network+ and 88.7 WRSU-FM.
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