PISCATAWAY – Rutgers University placed four players in double-digits, as the Scarlet Knights defeated Kean University, 90-56, at the Louis Brown Athletic Center (RAC) on Wednesday evening.
The Division I Scarlet Knights (7-4) handed the Cougars their first loss of the season, while the Rutgers win also was the 850th career victory for legendary Rutgers Head Coach C. Vivian Stringer.
For the Cougars (7-1), who are ranked fourth in the D3hoops.com and USA Today ESPN Division III Coaches’ Poll, sophomore guard Naimah Clemons finished with a team-high 18 points, including a career-high five three-pointers. Clemons set her previous career high last season at the RAC, when she finished with four three-pointers and 18 points in her first collegiate game a year ago in the season opening loss to the Scarlet Knights (85-49).
Junior guard Khadijah Rushdan led the Scarlet Knights with a game-high 22 points, as Rutgers hit 18-of-20 from the foul line and 50 percent (31-of-62) from the floor for the game.
After Rutgers’ April Sykes and Kean’s Clemons traded three-pointers to open the game, the Scarlet Knights knocked down their next three treys, with one from junior Nikki Speed, before Sykes knocked down a pair from downtown to give Rutgers a 12-3 lead just 2:45 into the game.
A three-pointer by Clemons pulled the Cougars to within six points at 14-8, however the Scarlet Knights scored the game’s next nine points to take a 23-8 lead on a fast break lay-up by Rushdan with 13:23 remaining in the first half.
Kean rookie Emily Cristaldi halted the Rutgers run with a three-pointer, but the Scarlet Knights answered right back with six straight points to build an 18-point lead following a three-pointer by Rushdan.
The Scarlet Knights extended the lead out to 28 points at 53-25 on a jumper by Wheeler, before taking a 57-30 lead at halftime. Rutgers shot 63 percent (19-of-30) from the floor in the opening half, including a blistering 75 percent (9-of-12) from long-range. Rushdan scored 14 points, while Sykes had 10 of her 11 points in the opening half for Rutgers. Clemons led the Cougars with eight points.
Rutgers opened the second half with the first four points to extend the lead out to 61-30 and the Scarlet Knights would lead by as many as 43 points at 83-40 following a lay-up by forward Chelsey Lee with 7:31 remaining in the game.
The two teams traded three-pointers for the 86-43 Rutgers lead with 6:46 remaining, before the Cougars ended a nearly four-minute scoring drought with a pair of free throws by junior Brittany Powell, as she opened a 10-0 Kean run to pull the Cougars to within 86-54 with just under a minute remaining.
The Scarlet Knights halted their own six minute scoring drought with a lay-up by Lee with 30 seconds remaining before the two teams traded baskets in the final 24 seconds for the final of 90-56.
Cristaldi finished with 13 points, while Clemons added a team-high seven rebounds.
The Scarlet Knights held a 28-8 advantage in the paint and a 15-0 edge in fast break points. Lee finished with 16 points, nine rebounds and four blocks and sophomore guard Erica Wheeler chipped in with 14 points and five assists.
Kean returns to action on Saturday, December 18, when the Cougars face host Messiah College in non-conference action at 2 p.m.
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