NEW YORK CITY – The Maggie Dixon Classic celebrates the memory of a special coach and friend to many. The classic also features a double header with two interesting matchups. On this afternoon, though, neither proved to be a close, down to the wire variety.
Rutgers 73, Louisiana Tech 46
LA Tech 67
LA Tech 69
The Four Factors:
The big news was the Rutgers offense.
The efficiency as highlighted by an outstanding effective field goal percentage did the trick. Rutgers had a few recent bumps in the road with losses to Princeton and Boston College. This victory improved C. Vivian Stringer’s group to 5-3 but of greater importance, gave some momentum to build on.
“This game was good because we had not been shooting well,” Stringer said. “But we are looking for an identity offensively.”
Stringer emphasized that the Scarlet Knights will continue to full court press. On the other end they have been encouraged to get out in transition. The possession numbers suggesting a fast pace bear this out. Simply, the availability of increased team numbers helps that, in both games and practices.
“Normally our teams have seven or eight players,” Stringer added. “Now we have 10 or 12 which brings out better competition in day to day practice.”
Rutgers post Monique Oliver was too much to handle inside, pacing Rutgers with 14 points while adding five rebounds. The return to form of Chelsea Lee was a positive – the 6-2 fifth year senior scored 11 points and hauled down 6 boards in 19 minutes.
The turnover problem.
Oliver felt Rutgers came in determined to cut down on turnovers and did. The reality of it all, Rutgers’ TO rate in this game was 32%. They entered the contest with a 29% mark. Good shooting will make up for a multitude of (turnover) sins.
Tech fell to 2-5 but for former college and WNBA star Teresa Weatherspoon, the trip was worth it.
“Everything about it was for our kids to experience what playing in Madison Square Garden is all about,” she said. “It has truly been emotional for me coming back and having a group of young ladies that I’m coaching to be part of this.”
Duke 60, St. John’s 42
Both at 61
The Four Factors:
Size was a major factor in this one.
The offensive rebounding rate shows, as did the raw numbers of Duke’s 19-14 advantage under the offensive glass. No surprise the Blue Devils led 34-20 in points in the paint and 20-12 in second chance points. Not to mention the free throw differential. Get offensive reboiunds and you get to the line.
St. John’s coach Joe Tartamella stressed the fact, at half time, that the Red Storm was being beaten on the boards. Tartamella was pleased St. John’s limited Duke to just five second chance points over the course of the last twenty minutes.
Elizabeth Williams (still not at full strength with a leg injury), Duke’s outstanding sophomore center, was impressive with 16 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks. Williams has now rejected at least one shot in each of her 41 career collegiate games.
Duke had three players in double figures. The story for the 8-0 Blue Devils though, was the defense. They not only held St. John’s, now 4-3, to a low offensive efficiency, they were very effective in forcing the Storm into a 26% turnover rate. Nadriah McKenith led St. John’s, and all scorers, with 19 points. She was the lone Storm player in double figures as Duke did an outstanding job limiting Shenneika Smith, the team’s leading scorer at 18 PPG, to eight points on 3 of 15 shooting.
Overall Duke mentor Joanne P. McCallie was pleased.
“I liked our presence on defense,” she said. “We did a great job defensively overall. Offensively there were a few things we didn’t do that we wanted.”
But not that much.