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'Breakout games' from freshmen help Rutgers women's basketball in win against Saint Francis

Freshman guard Lisa Thompson had a team-leading 16 points in the Rutgers women’s basketball team’s victory against Saint Francis.  – Photo by Evan Leong

The Rutgers women's basketball team picked up a victory on Saturday against Saint Francis by a score of 80-51 at Jersey Mike's Arena on Livingston campus. The Scarlet Knights (3-2, 0-0) outplayed the Red Flash (0-4, 0-0) from start to finish.

Senior center Chyna Cornwell opened up the scoring by making two free throws less than 2 minutes into the game. Kendall Carruthers responded to Cornwell's free throws with a three-pointer and a fast-break layup to take a 5-2 lead over Rutgers.

After the deficit was cut to 1 point, freshman guard Jillian Huerter came off the bench and knocked down a three-pointer to give the Knights a 7-5 lead. The shot helped spark a 17-0 scoring run for Rutgers.

Freshman guard Lisa Thompson contributed to crushing the Red Flash's spirits when she hit a three of her own with 1:26 left in the opening quarter.

The Knights kept Saint Francis scoreless for more than 6 minutes of play and led by 17 at the end of the first quarter.

Huerter kept her hot 3-point shooting going with another make to kick off the second quarter. Rutgers went cold after that, missing five shots in a row as the Red Flash cut the lead to 14 after Destini Ward nailed a pair of free throws.

The Knights finished the half leading 35-22.

Both teams traded blows from three-point range to begin the second half as Ward knocked one down and sophomore guard Kaylene Smikle answered.

Smikle recorded a block, and then junior guard and forward Destiny Adams got a steal. The two went the other way, and Smikle dished a pass to Adams for an easy bucket with 7:48 left to play in the third.

The freshmen duo of Huerter and Thompson continued their three-point efficiency when they hit back-to-back threes approximately halfway through the quarter.

Thompson put an exclamation point on the third quarter when she hit a buzzer-beating jumper to extend Rutgers' lead to 22 points.

Sophomore guard and forward Antonia Bates took over in the fourth quarter by first assisting Cornwell for an easy layup. Bates then assisted Huerter on a three and had another dime to Adams before she got the hot hand herself and drained back-to-back threes.

Bates had 6 points, four assists and two blocks as the Knights went on to finish with a 29-point win.

Rutgers shot an impressive 44.8 percent from the field and 48 percent from three-point range.

Thompson had a great game off the bench as she led the team with 16 points. Huerter also stood out with 15 points and shot 5 of 7 from behind the arc.

The freshmen duo helped the Knights' bench unit outscore Saint Francis 37-6.

Head coach Coquese Washington commended the first-year students for their performances.

"They both have the ability to knock down the long ball," Washington said. "I'm really happy that they had breakout games today."

Washington also talked about the competition within the team in practices.

"When they go against each other, it's the trash-talking that's so high," said Washington. "It is war."

Rutgers will return for another home game against Fairfield on Monday. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on Big Ten Plus and 88.7 WRSU-FM.

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

To view more of Jonathan Vasquez's work, follow @VazSpeaksSports on X.

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