No. 11 seed Rutgers women’s basketball (12-19, 6-13 B1G) defeated No. 14 Northwestern (9-10, 2-16 B1G) on Wednesday in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament by the final score of 63-59. The Scarlet Knights advance to the second round and will face No. 6 seed Illinois on Thursday night at approximately 8:45 p.m. ET. The game will air live on the Big Ten Network.
Rutgers led Northwestern 51-43 entering the fourth period before the Wildcats went on an 8-0 run to tie the game with just over six minutes remaining. After Awa Sidibe made a jumper to take back the lead, Paige Mott tied it up at 53-53 with 3:48 to play. Rutgers closed out the game on a 10-6 run led by Chyna Cornwell scoring 5 points. RU made 8 of 10 free throw attempts in the final four minutes to seal the victory
Both teams had 20 turnovers in the game and shot under 38% from the floor. Northwestern was able to stay in the game due to making 10 of 24 three-point attempts (41.7%) and outscoring Rutgers 23-12 in points off of turnovers. However, RU dominated inside with a 30-14 advantage with points in the paint and +9 rebounding margin. The Wildcats also shot just 30% from two-point range (9-30).
Second Team All-Big Ten selection Kaylene Smikle scored 21 of her 26 points in the first half and added 5 rebounds and 4 steals before fouling out late in the game. Smikle was 9 of 16 from the floor including 4 of 8 from three-point range. She became the program’s all-time freshman scorer passing Tyler Scaife with 551 points in her rookie season. It was her 14th game of the season in scoring 20+ points.
Honorable Mention All-Big Ten selection Chyna Cornwell dominated in the paint with her ninth double-double of the season. She finished with 15 points on 5 of 10 shooting along with 16 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Awa Sidible had 11 points on 4 of 13 shooting along with 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks playing a team high 36 minutes. Kai Carter came off the bench to score 11 points on 4 of 9 shooting and added 2 rebounds.
Rutgers just lost to Illinois 75-53 at home on Sunday and also lost 80-62 on the road in December. They will face them again tonight as the Illini are receiving votes in the latest AP Poll. It will be a difficult task for Coquese Washington’s team, but they’ve persevered all season with a short roster.
Day 1️⃣ #B1GWBBT
— Big Ten Women’s Basketball (@B1Gwbball) March 1, 2023
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