Wednesday’s road trip to Ann Arbor didn’t turn out too well for Northwestern in an 80-54 loss to the high-powered Michigan offense. Sunday’s trip to Piscataway, New Jersey, yielded much better results, as the Wildcats (16-5, 5-3 B1G) left the RAC with a resounding 55-37 win over the struggling Rutgers Scarlet Knights (6-16, 3-6 B1G).
In the win, Northwestern set new season-bests by holding Rutgers to just 37 points and 25 percent shooting. On the flipside, the 55 points were the second-fewest scored by the Wildcats this year (trailing only the Michigan loss earlier in the week), but NU’s .458 shooting percentage was its eighth-best mark of the season.
Despite these differences in shooting efficiency, it was Rutgers that lead, 14-12, after the first period of play. Aliyah Jeune had six points in the period. She would score eight total over the next three. Her team would score only 23 more.
The Scarlet Knights led 19-15 with 5:20 to go in the first half, but Northwestern scored the final seven points of the period to head into halftime with a 22-19 lead. The Wildcats would blow it open in the third, doubling their point total from the first half in just one quarter. Northwestern scored the first ten points of the third quarter and outscored Rutgers 22-7 in the frame. Jeune tacked on five points in the fourth, but it was far from enough to prevent a 55-37 Northwestern win.
Lauren Douglas led the Wildcats with 16 points, two away from her season-high, adding three rebounds and two blocks. Amber Jamison added 10 points for her fourth-straight double digit-scoring outing.
Christen Inman had missed the last two games for Northwestern and her presence was a welcome sight on Sunday. She tallied seven points, two rebounds, two assists and a block in 19 minutes of action. Her return may mean fewer minutes for Jamison, but it also means less reliance on the other two senior captains, Ashley Deary and Nia Coffey.
Coffey in particular had struggled in recent games, shooting below her season average of .423 in five of her previous seven contests. She and Deary both put in balanced performances in the win Sunday, with Coffey registering seven points, seven boards and four assists and Deary adding eight points, six helpers and five steals.
Jeune led the Scarlet Knights with 14 points and 5 boards off the bench. Shrita Parker helped the cause with nine points, seven rebounds and three assists, but she committed five turnovers. Rutgers still seems to be reeling from the season-ending injury to star Tyler Scaife, and a young team that starts three sophomores and a freshman presented a prime opportunity for the Wildcats to rebound from a big loss.
Northwestern will host Wisconsin, which is winless in eight conference games, on Wednesday night.