Kevin Xavier-Associate Sports Editor
The Rutgers women’s basketball team is hunting for a bounce back win and the timing could not be more perfect for Arkansas to visit the Louis Brown Athletic Center on Sunday afternoon.
Coming off a 69-54 loss at home to Missouri State, the Razorbacks enter the matchup at the RAC on a five-game losing streak, making the Hogs ripe for the Scarlet Knights’ picking.
Rutgers will look to recover after suffering a 65-43 drubbing at the hands of No. 13 Florida State in Tallahassee on Thursday.
The Knights came out flat against the Seminoles, falling behind 19-4 after the first period of play and the 15-point deficit proved too large to overcome, despite some spirited play in the second quarter.
Slow starts have plagued Rutgers on a few occasions in the young season, leading to losses at Seton Hall and in the home opener versus St. John’s, before falling to Florida State on Thursday night.
I don’t expect that to be the case today, especially for junior guard and Arkansas native, Tyler Scaife.
Scaife will be facing her home state’s team for the second time in her three-year career on the Banks. In last year’s matchup at Arkansas, Scaife poured in 13 points and pulled down three rebounds in the Little Rock native’s homecoming to the Natural State.
The then-No. 18 Knights took Scaife’s lead and cruised to a 64-52 victory over the then-No. 25 Hogs.
I see this year’s matchup as much of the same.
Scaife will amped up to show out against some of the players on the Razorbacks roster that she grew up playing with and competing against.
I’m expecting Rutgers junior guard to drop a minimum of 18 points and sprinkle in five or six assists. The Knights scoring presence, with Kahleah Copper complimenting Scaife, will be too much for the Hogs to handle, although Rutgers will need to keep a close eye on forward Jessica Jackson.
Jackson enters the contest averaging 17.6 points and eight rebounds per game, which will test Knights senior center Rachel Hollivay on the defensive end.
But Hollivay and company bottled up a premier center in FSU’s Atuk Bulgak in their last time out on the floor, limiting the Canadian to six points and five rebounds after entering the contest averaging 20.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
Rutgers will redeem itself today.
Scaife will shine and Copper will regain the form that garnered Paradise Jam MVP honors over the Thanksgiving break, where the Philadelphia native averaged 23 points and eight rebounds over three games in St. Martin.
If the Knights start fast, they won’t look back and that could lead to a 20-point margin of victory.
Prediction: Rutgers 68 Arkansas 52