Rutgers women rally to beat Louisville in OT

Erica Wheeler scored 23 points, including an off-balance

3-pointer with the shot clock running out in overtime, and No. 8

Rutgers beat 16th-ranked Louisville 71-68 on Saturday.

Trailing 68-67, Wheeler rebounded Khadijah Rushdan’s miss and

dribbled out to the 3-point line. She barely recognized the shot

clock was down to its last tick before turning around and

connecting with 1:12 left in the extra period.

The Scarlet Knights (15-2, 4-0 Big East) forced a shot clock

violation on the other end. After Monique Oliver’s lay-in rolled

off the rim with 13 seconds left, Louisville had one last chance to

tie it, but Bria Smith’s drive came up short and Rushdan seal the

win with a free throw with 1.2 seconds left.

Freshman Shawnta’ Dyer led the Cardinals (14-4, 3-2) with a

season-high 16 points.

April Sykes scored 17 of her 19 points in the second half for

the Scarlet Knights, who trailed 41-28 early in the period.

Sykes, Wheeler and Rushdan fueled the Scarlet Knights’ rally.

After going a combined 4 for 19 in the first half, the trio scored

all 20 points during a run that tied it at 48 with 7:35 left.

The teams traded baskets until Sykes’ 3-pointer put Rutgers

ahead 58-56 with 3:02 left in regulation. Smith made two free

throws to tie it, but Oliver hit one of two from the line to give

Rutgers the lead with 1:36 left.

Smith was fouled a minute later and connected on both her free

throws to give Louisville a 60-59 lead. Wheeler was fouled on the

ensuing possession and made one of two. Shoni Schimmel got the

rebound, but threw the ball out of bounds on the other end, giving

Rutgers one last chance.

Sykes missed a 15-footer and Wheeler the follow, sending the

game to overtime.

Rutgers has won six straight games and is off to its best start

since 2007-08 when it won 17 of its first 19 games. It was the

Scarlet Knights’ first win over a ranked opponent this season.

With her young team, coach C. Vivian Stringer has scheduled a

little lighter this year and the Scarlet Knights had played just

two games against Top 25 teams coming into the day. They lost both

of them, falling in double overtime at Miami and losing to

Tennessee by six. This is the latest in the season they’ve played a

third ranked opponent since 2005-06.

With the game tied at 23 with 3 minutes left in the first half,

Louisville scored the final nine points before the break. Cierra

Warren had the first two baskets then Becky Burke followed with a

3-pointer. Shelby Harper converted two free throws with two-tenths

of a second left.

Rutgers’ only bright spot on offense in the first half was

Oliver. She had 10 points at intermission, making five of her eight

shots.

The Cardinals continued their run to start the second half,

scoring nine of the first 11 points to open a 41-28 lead when Burke

hit all three free throws after she was fouled on a 3-point

attempt.