The Rutgers women's basketball team fell to Auburn 76-56 Sunday afternoon at Jersey Mike’s Arena on Livingston campus.
The Scarlet Knights (2-1, 0-0) ended their first week of out-of-conference play with two wins and a loss.
Ultimately, Rutgers could not come back from a second quarter dominated by the Tigers (3-0, 0-0). Here are the two biggest takeaways from the Knights' 20-point loss.
Second quarter struggles
Rutgers had a stellar first quarter on both sides of the ball. The Knights got out to a 13-2 lead as Auburn could not get its shots to fall.
By the end of the first quarter, Rutgers led 17-11 as sophomore guard Kaylene Smikle scored 6 first-quarter points.
The momentum flipped firmly in the Tigers' direction in the second quarter as the Knights went ice cold from the field and Auburn heated up.
From the 8:28 mark to the 0:24 mark of the second quarter, the Tigers went on an astounding 24-0 run as Rutgers could not sink any of its shots for nearly 9 minutes. The Knights only managed to score 5 points from approximately the 3-minute mark of the first quarter to the 24-second mark of the second quarter, as Auburn outscored them 34-5 during that span.
Savannah Scott was a force down low for the Tigers with 12 first-half points and six rebounds, four being offensive boards.
Auburn was also able to capitalize with 16 points off of its 13 forced turnovers in the first half.
Head coach Coquese Washington pinpointed what went wrong in the second quarter for her squad.
"They transferred those (turnovers) into easy layups," Washington said after the game. "And so, we didn't have a lot of ball security in that second quarter, and that was the difference, really, in the game."
Much improved second half
Just when it seemed like Rutgers was lost at sea, the Knights seemed to right the ship.
In the third quarter, Rutgers outscored the Tigers 21-17 as it was able to hit four three-pointers, three from Smikle. The Knights were also able to hold Auburn to zero field goals for more than 5 minutes at one point in the third.
The Tigers pulled away with their lead in the fourth quarter, but Rutgers fought to stay in it every step of the way, literally and figuratively, after both sides got into a fourth-quarter scuffle that paused game action.
After getting outplayed for the majority of the first half, the Knights looked better coming out of the locker room. Rutgers never took the foot off the gas, which is a positive sign, especially against a tough SEC opponent like Auburn.
Washington spoke about the Knights' resilience in the second half against the Tigers.
"We’ve got a group that’s going to compete," Washington said. "They’re going to fight. They’re going to play the whole game."
Rutgers will return to action Wednesday in its first road game of the season against Seton Hall.
"I like our toughness. I think we’re a pretty tough team," Washington said of her first impressions on the Knights' first week of play. "I like the fact that we’re aggressive on the boards. I like the pace that we’re playing with."
For more updates on the Rutgers women's basketball team, follow @TargumSports on X.
To view more of Josh Meyers' work, follow @JoshCMeyers on X.