Rutgers falls to South Florida in Big East Tournament

USA TODAY Sports

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights fell to the South Florida Bulls, 42-39, in the second round of the Big East tournament. After being up by five points with just under five minutes left, poor execution down the stretch was Rutgers' undoing. Now it's time to wonder whether they'll accept a WNIT bid.

Normally when a million dollar coach down 1 with under a minute left in a game huddles with five hundred thousand plus assistants, one would expect a play to be drawn up. A screen, a back door or something. Last night at the XL Center in Hartford in the second round of the Big East Tournament.

Instead Rutgers promptly committed a turnover - 1 of 25 in the game - and South Florida, the no. 8 seed, went on for a 42-39 win over the no. 9 seed Rutgers. Coaches at press row just shook their respective heads, seemingly incredulous at what had transpired.

Rutgers, as in many games this season, led for most of the game and actually held a 39-34 lead with 4:49 remaining. But they would not score again - it is tough to even remember Rutgers scoring in the game.

The Knights were characteristically poor from the field and free throw line. They shot 15-39, 2-8 from three and a woeful 7-19 from the free throw line. South Florida was not much better, but only committed 12 turnovers. That was the difference.

Rutgers, a Top 25 team entering the season now stands at 16-14. Will they accept a WNIT bid? It would be the first one in the Stringer tenure at Rutgers. Last year she indicated that she would turn down the bid.

There are two schools of thought in that regard. One is to turn down the bid and put a merciful end to the season. The other is to take the bid and get a couple of home games at the RAC where Rutgers stood 13-2 on the season. Certainly Stringer should not make the decision on her own. It should be made after consultation with the AD, Tim Pernetti.

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