The Rutgers women's basketball team lost to Michigan 56-50 on Sunday afternoon at Jersey Mike's Arena on Livingston campus. Despite putting up a good fight, the Scarlet Knights (6-15, 0-8) extended their losing streak to 10 games and remain winless in the Big Ten after falling to the Wolverines (13-6, 4-3).
By the end of the first quarter, Rutgers trailed Michigan 16-10 after Laila Phelia hit both of her three-point attempts. Junior guard and forward Destiny Adams and freshman guard Lisa Thompson were the only Knights to score in the opening period.
There was not much more scoring in the second quarter as offense took a back seat to defense. The Wolverines led Rutgers 9-8 in second quarter points and went into halftime with a 25-18 advantage. Phelia led Michigan with 14 points after two quarters, while Adams led the Knights with 8 points at the half.
The third quarter followed the same back-and-forth pace, but Rutgers had the better footing. The Knights outscored the Wolverines 12-9 in the third period of play and trailed 34-30 heading into the final 10 minutes of action.
With approximately 7:30 to go in the fourth quarter, Rutgers hit its first three-point shot of the day after freshman guard Jillian Huerter sank one in from the corner. At that point, the Knights trailed 38-34, but Michigan answered with 5 straight points from Phelia.
Rutgers found itself down 47-39 with 4:03 to go in the final quarter. The Knights would go on an 8-2 run, forcing the Wolverines to call a timeout. Sophomore guard Mya Petticord made two slick jumpers in the scoring run.
With the score at 49-47, Lauren Hansen knocked down a big three-pointer to give Michigan a 5-point lead with just more than a minute to go. That shot helped turn the needle all the way in favor of the Wolverines as they hit a few more free throws near the end in their 6-point win over Rutgers.
Phelia was Michigan's main source of scoring with a team-leading 25 points and six rebounds. On the other end, Huerter led the Knights in scoring with 12 points and three successful shots from deep.
After the game, head coach Coquese Washington commended Phelia on her game.
"Laila Phelia is one of the toughest matchups in the conference," Washington said. "She just is a very good three-level scorer. Her mid-range game and her ability to drive to the basket — they can rely on that."
On a positive note, Rutgers made 43.9 percent of its shots from the field while holding the Wolverines to a 36.4 field goal percentage. Washington spoke on what went well on the defensive end of the floor against Michigan.
"I thought we gave some great efforts to get some blocks, to get some deflections, to get some box outs, some rebounds. We just needed a few more," Washington said.
The season hasn't gone as well as Washington may have hoped, but her confidence in her young squad and the process of learning to play at the collegiate level is unwavering.
"It doesn't matter if we lose by 30, or we lose by 5 or we win by 10," Washington said. "That process is what I'm here for — to help them go through it, to learn from it, get better from it and be stronger competitors because of the experience."
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.