Basketball never stops, and neither does your intrepid blogger. It's only six or seven blocks from LIU to the Barclays Center, so after sandwiches and cheesecake at Junior's, we walked from the Turkey Classic to the Barclays Invitational, pleasantly surprised to find out that our tickets were in fact ready during the Texas Tech-Rutgers game. We missed the very beginning, but at halftime it's 36-25 Rutgers. Tyler Scaife has 12; no Lady Raider has more than four.
Another game of bad shooting, in which the urge to shout "guns up, UR DOIN IT RONG" grew ever stronger with every blown offensive rebound. Rutgers does that to teams, but they really need to not do it to themselves. On the other hand, Rutgers fans should really be used to it by now. Coach Stringer's been there for how many years? Brought in how many defensive-minded athletes who can't or won't shoot to save their lives? Relied too much on a single player to do all the scoring while everyone else passed the ball around? I used to be a Rutgers fan. I know what I'm talking about.
Syessence Davis sparkled off the bench. Her hands were very active on defense, and she hit some big shots in the second half. She rebounded well as well. Precious Person has somehow, inexplicably, along with Essence Carson's number, inherited Essence's inability to recognize the longer three-point line, despite the fact that Essence only figured this out in her W days wearing a different number. I didn't say it was logical. Christa Evans gave some minutes when Rachel Hollivay got in foul trouble, and with an offensive foul proved why she hasn't been getting minutes. Ariel Butts was solid in the middle, setting picks and screens for her teammates to get around and pass the ball to each other through.
Kahleah Copper took the worst of a hard collision with Amber Battle and came up holding her back, walking as if she wasn't sure how the whole walking thing should be working. She got back into the game and proceeded to continue hitting shots, so it wasn't as bad as it looked. (Either that, or she's made of iron, not Copper.) Rachel Hollivay earned the eternal rage of the people behind us for repeatedly missing chippies- she didn't have a field goal in the second half until something like the last two minutes of the game. She made up for it with her resounding blocks down low. Betnijah Laney rebounded well, but couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. The red sleeves make her stick out (yes, I know they have to be the same color as the rest of the uniform, but they become more noticeable when they're red). Briyona Canty couldn't get her shot to fall, but made a couple of nice defensive plays. Tyler Scaife looked fantastic. I think she got the start, but I'm not completely certain. Her passes were slick and quick, and she drove the lane well. In the first half, she looked like the only Rutgers player who wanted to score, which makes sense, given that she's a freshman and therefore hasn't had the idea of offense being anathema drummed into her head yet.
Whittaker changed things up a little bit with the posts, going more with the Schneiders (even before the injury to Shauntal Nobles). Haley Schneider missed entirely too many shots that a woman of her height has no excuse for missing. Ivonne Cook Taylor got into the game and immediately launched a shot. I'm starting to think this is her game. Diamond Lockhart's speed seemed to get away from her- she was a little out of control. Jasmine Caston brought the offense in the second half, firing up threes to keep Texas Tech close.
Shauntal Nobles was rebounding well on the inside before a stray forearm caught her in the face and left her holding a towel over the vast majority of her face as she came off the court after being stuck in an awkward kneeling position for quite some time. It looked like she suffered a badly broken nose, but she was back on the bench (in a new jersey) by the end of the game, though she never went back in. She wasn't able to get her shot to go down, but she corralled a lot of offensive rebounds. Audrisa Harrison was a master of drawing contact and getting to the line. She didn't end up with a lot of shot attempts, but that was because she ended up at the line so often. Minta Spears went inside more than she did in the Michigan game, but that might have been because her threes weren't falling. She took a hard tumble into a couple of the flimsy chairs in the first row. They went down like dominoes. She was the one who insisted on fouling when Texas Tech was down double digits with thirty seconds to go, and those us in maize and blue were just waiting for the game to be over so we could get on with our late tip. Amber Battle's shot wasn't falling, though she was able to get decent shots off, but she rebounded well and got into defensive position. Marina Lizarazu was still taking too many risks, but had her game more under control than the other day.
Rutgers will always make a team play out of control, make them freak out, make them hesitate at the wrong times and hurry things up at the wrong times. Texas Tech fell right into that trap. Only the three-point shooting kept them in the game, and when those didn't fall, they were doomed.
I wasn't thrilled with the officials, but not to the extent that the Rutgers fans were. Of course, they're never happy with officials.
That was a good bounceback game for the Scarlet Knights. They needed a good game, and I think they also needed Scaife to assert herself more for the team's future. She's a talented, creative guard, and she needs to stay that way.