On Thursday night, the Rutgers women’s basketball team crushed Wagner 86-43 at Jersey Mike's Arena on Livingston campus, starting its season off with two straight wins. The Scarlet Knights (2-0, 0-0) looked strong throughout and dominated the Seahawks (0-1, 0-0) in every facet of the game.
Here are three takeaways from the 43-point win.
Dominating first half
Rutgers was off to a hot start in the first half of its game against Wagner, quickly gaining a 6-point lead to begin the game.
At the 4:33 mark of the first quarter, junior forward Destiny Adams made a beautiful one-handed pass down the court to freshman guard Lisa Thompson, who drove in for the easy lay-up that gave the Knights an 11-4 lead.
Rutgers would end the first quarter on a 12-0 run, as freshman guard Jillian Huerter hit a three-pointer and sophomore guard Kaylene Smikle scored 7 points. The Knights kept the Seahawks scoreless for the first quarter's final five and a half minutes.
In the second quarter, Rutgers kept its foot firmly pressed on the gas pedal as Huerter and senior guard Erica Lafayette hit back-to-back three-pointers to give the team a 33-8 lead with more than 5 minutes remaining. The Knights would score the next 13 straight points to give themselves a 46-8 lead.
Overall, Rutgers went on a 25-4 run that began at the start of the second quarter and lasted more than 7.5 minutes. The Knights outscored Wagner 27-9 in the quarter, controlling the pace of play every step of the way and leading 48-13 at the half.
Everyone contributes in the win
In the second half, Adams showcased her ability to drive to the basket in transition and finish with lay-ups. Petticord displayed her excellent passing while Cornwell remained a magnet for defensive rebounds.
Rutgers’ largest lead of the night was 51 points as every active player on the roster hit the hardwood.
Adams had a double-double, scoring 17 points, bringing in 12 rebounds and adding on three blocks and five steals on defense. Cornwell scored 15 points along with tacking on eight rebounds. Lafayette scored 9 points on three shots from beyond the arc. Sophomore guard Antonia Bates and Petticord both dished out six assists.
Overall, the Knights shot 47.5 percent from the field, 29.4 percent from three-point range and 79.3 percent from the stripe. After the game, head coach Coquese Washington spoke about how everyone on the roster contributed to the win.
“That’s the way we want to play," Washington said. "We want to have a balanced attack in the sense that when we sub, there’s not much of a drop-off. I think in the first half, that’s what we saw when we went to our bench, and when we put different people in, put different lineups on the floor. We were still able to be effective.”
Kaylene Smikle is getting back into the offensive groove
After only scoring 5 points in Rutgers’ season-opening against Monmouth, Smikle matched Adams with a double-double of her own against the Seahawks, leading the team in scoring with 20 points and corralling in 11 rebounds.
Smikle spoke about returning to full strength as the season progresses.
“I think I’m just trusting the process,” Smikle said. “I feel like every game is going to get better. I’m going to get more comfortable out there.”
Smikle also went 7-8 on free throw attempts in the first quarter and went 12-14 from the stripe overall. She spoke about practicing her shot as she rehabilitated from a preseason injury.
“I spent a lot of time shooting and shooting free throws, so I think that transferred onto the game,” Smikle said.
Next up for the Knights will be a tough home game on Sunday at 5 p.m. against Auburn, but Washington and her team are up for the challenge.
“I definitely feel like we’re going to come into the game confident with who we are and how we play,” Washington said. “Those are the kinds of games that we want to play and need to play to get ready for Big Ten play.”
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