The Rutgers women’s basketball team achieved a season-opening 56-51 win over Monmouth on Monday night at Jersey Mike's Arena on Livingston campus. The Scarlet Knights (1-0, 0-0) never trailed the Hawks (0-1, 0-0) as they began their out-of-conference schedule with a perfect record.
After one quarter, Rutgers led 16-8 as sophomore guard Mya Petticord scored 8 points for the Knights in her first quarter on the Banks.
Rutgers went silent at the start of the second quarter as it only scored 3 points in the first 4.5 minutes of the quarter and allowed Monmouth to catch up. The Knights led 19-15 at the 5:29 mark of the second quarter as travels, fouls and turnovers plagued Rutgers.
After two Hawks free throws, junior forward Destiny Adams scored back-to-back buckets. The Knights achieved a 6-point scoring run when freshman guard Lisa Thompson converted a nifty lay-up. By the end of the first half, Rutgers led Monmouth 25-20.
Near the beginning of the second half, Kaci Donovan hit a three-pointer for the Hawks, but three-pointers from Petticord and Thompson gave the Knights a 33-25 lead at the 7:09 mark of the third quarter.
Monmouth got within 4 points of Rutgers again until Adams scored 3 points on a field goal and a free throw. The Knights held a 36-29 lead over the Hawks near the halfway marker of the third quarter.
At the end of the third quarter, Rutgers led 43-33 after sophomore guard Kaylene Smikle made her first two field goals of the season.
Senior center Chyna Cornwell secured a board and hit a 2-point shot to give the Knights a 12-point advantage and their biggest lead of the night in the fourth quarter. At the 8:53 mark of the fourth quarter, Rutgers led 45-33.
At the 4:17 mark of the fourth quarter, Rutgers would lead 51-44. Monmouth would try for a comeback attempt and even trailed by 4 points at one point. Despite going cold from the field near the end, the Knights were able to hold on for the 5-point victory.
Rutgers was able to out-rebound the Hawks 23-10 on the offensive glass. The Knights also had 11 steals on the defensive end of the ball.
Petticord led the team in points with 17 on the night. Adams impressed with 17 rebounds along with 13 points, while Cornwell scored 10 points and brought in 10 rebounds of her own.
After the game, head coach Coquese Washington commended Petticord and Adams on their play in their first games after transferring to Rutgers.
"Certainly, we have great leadership with (Petticord) at the point," Washington said. "And (Adams) is just a match-up nightmare. She's so versatile, and we can move her around and put her in different spots. I just love what they bring. They bring a tremendous amount of energy."
Petticord talked about what the team is focused on this season.
"Since the summer, (we've been) talking about what we want to do as a team and what our identity wanna be," Petticord said. "So, I feel like we’re slowly getting to that team, and we’ve been really working on our chemistry on and off the court."
Even with the win, Washington believes her team could have improved in multiple facets.
"We didn't play nearly fast enough as we want to play," Washington said. "We didn't shoot the ball as well as I know that we're capable of shooting the ball. Certainly, we want to score a lot more points ... Anything in the 50s is way too low. I think, offensively, we’re going to continue to push the envelope there, and I think we’ll get better at that as the season goes along."
The Knights will be right back at it with another home game against Wagner at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
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