Going into its Saturday matchup with Georgetown, the No. 9 Rutgers women’s basketball team saw the game as just a “quiz,” according to Rutgers Head Coach C. Vivian Stringer – a chance to fine-tune before facing three straight top-25 teams.

What the Scarlet Knights got, though, was a tenacious Hoya team that was not ready to just roll on over.

Though Georgetown ended up falling 65-51, it outrebounded a conference opponent for only the second time this season, an accomplishment that Head Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said was one of the team’s goals for the game. Rutgers (15-3, 7-0 Big East) had 31 boards to Georgetown’s 34.

While the Hoyas (8-11, 1-7) were optimistic despite their fifth-straight loss, the Scarlet Knights were disappointed in their performance.

“I don’t have a good feeling about the game,” Stringer said. “It’s not about winning to me. It’s about how we won and how we executed.”

On one hand, there was sophomore guard Matee Ajavon. Last year’s Big East freshman of the year, Ajavon was benched in the second half as the Hoya defense held her to 1-for-7 shooting.

“I am real clear about this: I play people who function the way they are supposed to function on the floor,” Stringer said. “I will give you a second chance and a third chance, and then guess what?”

On the other hand, there was the 16-0 run that Rutgers put together during the first half, thanks to the efficacy of its press, which Stringer calls the “55.” The run erased the Hoyas’ early 14-12 lead and gave the Scarlet Knights a 30-17 advantage at halftime.

“We didn’t do a bad job of the 55,” Stringer offered in some of her few words of praise following the game.

But the Scarlet Knights’ frustration lingered on their inconsistency in the post. Aside from the rebounding, Rutgers missed just over half of their layup attempts.

“The posts, for the last couple games, we haven’t been doing our part on the inside,” senior forward/center ariota Theodoris said. “We’ve got to represent ourselves a lot better in the post.”

“We’ve got bunnies inside,” Stringer said. “I told them not to pass it to the post. . We didn’t deserve to get the ball.”

Six-foot-four freshman center Kia Vaughn did collect five blocks coming off of the bench, but as Williams-Flournoy said, “as big as she is, she better get five blocks,” laughing.

Vaughn caused serious mismatching problems for Georgetown sophomore forward Kieraah Marlow, who stands at 5-foot-8. Marlow was held to seven points, her lowest output in conference play so far this season. Marlow, whose 16.3 scoring average ranks seventh in the Big East, could only manage one field goal in 11 attempts on the game.

The Hoyas’ next highest scorer, senior guard Bethany LeSueur, also had a rough afternoon. Her three points all came from free throws, as she went 0-for-4 on the floor.

Rutgers sophomore guard Essence Carson was assigned to contain LeSueur. Carson finished the game with 14 points and five steals.

“We just played the defense that we know how to play,” Carson said. “I had great help from my teammates as well. There’s no way I could play her one-on-one without help from my teammates. Whenever we shutdown people, it’s an effort from all five people on the floor.”

Freshman center Katrina Wheeler and sophomore guard Kristin Heidloff kept the Hoyas afloat, though, with their double-digit contributions. Wheeler had 18 points and 12 boards, her sixth double-double in her rookie season. Heidloff added 17 points and four three-pointers.

Georgetown gave Rutgers fits late in the second half when the Hoyas switched into their own press.

“I don’t like the way we handled the ball at the end when they started pressing. That was ridiculous. That was totally ridiculous,” Stringer said.

Nevertheless, Rutgers forced many more turnovers from Georgetown – the Scarlet Knights lost the ball 15 times to the Hoyas’ 24.

But for the large legion of Rutgers fans in the crowd of 964 at cDonough Gymnasium – the entire visitors’ section was a sea of scarlet – the win was still a win. As senior guard Cappie Pondexter left the court in the final minutes of the game, several of the Rutgers faithful gave her a standing ovation for her 24 points.

And for the Hoyas, the loss was still a loss. Stringer, however, had several good things to say about Williams-Flournoy’s team.

“They played hard. They played with intensity. They played with purpose,” Stringer said. “I think they did a nice job. Obviously, they are playing with a level of pride, because it would be easy for them to just lay down. But I thought that they played until the end to win.”

That is the attitude that Georgetown will need to keep up to break out of its slump. A contest at Pittsburgh is next on the schedule, and unlike past years, this game will not be easy. The Panthers (13-6, 4-4) are on pace for their first winning season since 1999-2000.

Wednesday’s game gets underway at 7:30 p.m.

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