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Knights Under Lights: Betnijah Laney

Former Rutgers women’s basketball guard Betnijah Laney made waves in the WNBA after her time on the Banks. – Photo by Ice You

In Knights Under Lights, The Daily Targum looks at players who distinguished themselves during their time on the Banks.

Betnijah Laney was a four-year starter for the Rutgers women's basketball team and helped the program collect four straight winning seasons from 2011 to 2015.

Laney, who received the Big Ten Medal of Honor in 2015, was selected to two all-conference teams during her time on the Banks and forged a legacy of service and selflessness on and off the hardwood.

As a freshman, Laney started off struggling from the field as she adjusted to the college game. As the game slowed down, though, she found herself in the starting lineup and earned a Big East All-Freshman team nod.

In her sophomore season, Laney became one of the team's most recognizable faces, starting 29 of 30 games as one of the team's go-to scoring options. Her improvement from her debut season was evident as she bumped up her scoring average from approximately 6 points per game to approximately 10 points per game. Despite her improvement, the Scarlet Knights had a down year overall, only winning seven conference games.

As a junior, Laney burst onto the national scene, earning All-ACC second-team honors after starting every game and leading the team with 8.5 rebounds a night. She also averaged approximately 12 points per game.

Her impressive play helped Rutgers secure its first WNIT Championship and a second national championship in program history. In the WNIT game, Laney got 2 points and two assists to help the Knights get a thrilling 56-54 win over UTEP in the WNIT Final.

Despite being a major contributor to a WNIT championship team, the best was still yet to come from Laney, who enjoyed her finest season on the Banks as a senior. In her senior season, Laney started all 32 games and averaged approximately 16 points per game and 11 rebounds per game. For her standout play, Laney was awarded All-Big Ten first-team honors in the program's first season in the Big Ten.

After her career on the Banks, Laney was selected by the Chicago Sky with the fifth pick in the second round of the 2015 WNBA Draft. With the Sky, Laney shared the floor with fellow former Scarlet Knight and WNBA legend Cappie Pondexter for two seasons. Laney saw very limited action in the Sun's Eastern Conference semifinal loss to the Indiana Fever. 

Laney struggled to get a consistent role in the Windy City, averaging approximately 9 minutes per game and starting only three games. Ahead of the 2018 season, Laney signed for the Connecticut Sun. In a similarly limited role in Connecticut, she saw her efficiency skyrocket as she shot 47.1 percent from the field and 90.9 percent from the free-throw line.

With Laney continuing to improve, she signed with the Atlanta Dream ahead of the 2020 season. With the Dream, Laney had her breakout season, becoming one of the league's brightest stars by posting career-best averages in points, rebounds, assists and steals and even winning the 2020 WNBA Most Improved Player award.

Laney finally found a long-term place to call home in the 2021 season, signing with the New York Liberty on a 3-year contract. With the Liberty, Laney has become a consistent starter.

In her first season in the Big Apple, Laney became a WNBA All-Star, forming a lethal scoring duo with Natasha Howard. After consecutive playoff appearances in 2021 and 2022, the Liberty (31-7, 16-3) now find themselves atop the league standings in Laney's third season with the team.

The eight-year veteran is currently enjoying the most efficient season of her career, averaging 12.6 points and shooting approximately 50 percent from the field. Last night against the Dallas Wings, Laney scored 22 points in a 94-93 victory.

Laney's next game will be against the Los Angeles Sparks tomorrow. Expect the former Scarlet Knight to continue contributing to a Liberty team with title aspirations. 

For more updates on the Rutgers football team, follow @TargumSports on X.

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