Fourth Quarter Comeback fuels Rutgers 73-67 Win over Wisconsin
In front of 5,662 fans on Sunday afternoon at the RAC, Rutgers was trailing Wisconsin 51-48 entering the fourth quarter. On the day the program was playing its annual Play4Kay game honoring female cancer survivors, it was appropriate that the Scarlet Knights battled through for a 73-67 victory over the Badgers. Four players scored in double digits in a game that had 13 lead changes. With the win, RU improved to 10-14 overall and 4-8 in Big Ten play where they sit in ninth place.
Chyna Cornwell’s layup with 7:50 to play tied the game at 56-56. Awa Sidibe then hit one of two free throws for the lead. She was fouled on the extended possession in which Rutgers grabbed three offensive rebounds to keep alive. Another Cornwell layup extended the lead to three before Wisconsin tied it as Maty Wilke connected from behind the arc. Wilke then gave the Badgers a 61-59 lead on a jumper with 3:12 to play.
Standout freshman Kaylene Smikle’s layup tied it with 2:50 to play. Rutgers then bled the game away from the foul line. The Scarlet Knights didn’t have another field goal the rest of the way. However, they made 12 of 14 free throws down the stretch to seal the victory. Smikle and Sidibe both made 4 of 4 attempts from the line in the closing minutes.
Chyna Cornwell led the way with her eighth double-double of the season. She scored a team high 16 points on 6 of 8 shooting. In addition to 4 of 4 from the foul line and grabbed 11 rebounds.
“She is so consistent,” head coach Coquese Washington said after the game of Cornwell. “I know what she is going to give us every game. I know she is going to battle on defense, I know she is going to give us close to a double-double, if not a double-double every game. That kind of consistency is remarkable for somebody that hasn’t played a ton in her first two years. This year she is a starter in every game, she has been consistent, and she fights.It is just great for her to have this experience and for me to watch her grow.”
Point guard Awa Sidibe played 39 minutes in her most complete performance of her career. She finished with 15 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 blocks. She also was 7 of 8 from the foul line.
Kassondra Brown added 14 points and 4 rebounds. Leading scorer Kaylene Smikle scored 13 points on 3 of 9 shooting and 6 of 6 from the foul line along with 2 assists and 2 steals. Abby Streeter came off the bench to make 2 of 3 three-point attempts finishing with 6 points.
The Scarlet Knights shot 42.6% from the floor, 4 of 10 from three (40%), and made 23 of 30 foul shots (76.7%). This team finished the fourth quarter making 15 of 19 from the line for 79.0%. The pace was pushed by RU who finished with a commanding 25-7 advantage in fast break points. The defense forced 21 Wisconsin turnovers that resulted in a 24-15 edge in points off of turnovers. The Rutgers bench outscored the Badgers reserves 13-0 while holding a 38-28 advantage with points in the paint.
It was a huge win for Rutgers as this team continues to fight through adversity. Washington has done a great job of balancing playing time to keep the players playing hard and for each other. While the Big Ten doesn’t do a complete preseason poll and rather top five teams, the Scarlet Knights are exceeding expectations. RU will next host Purdue on Thursday night at 7 p.m. ET. The game will be streamed live on B1G+.
To watch/listen to head coach Coquese Washington’s appearance on The Scarlet Faithful podcast last Friday, click here.
Rutgers postgame press conference
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February 6, 2023 at 1:26 pm
Another nice win for the women. So great to see their progress from the early season. They are a high energy team and play at a fast pace. Fun to watch. And only 15TO’s. They shave been getting much better at taking care of the ball the last 3 or 4 games.
February 6, 2023 at 7:06 pm
I don’t know if Sidibe has any eligibility left after this season but I really like her game and would like to see her back next season to form a nice core with Smikle, Lafayette, Bates & Cornwell & the newcomer, Huerter. This team has a ways to go, but the improvement is noticeable with the promise of good things ahead. Once this HC brings in more of her recruits/transfers that fit the identity she’s building, Rutgers may just have two basketball programs causing noise in the Big Ten!