Rutgers escapes with 68-65 overtime win over Columbia
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell was surprisingly passive during his halftime speech. Instead, he gave his adjustments before instructing his team to have a quick players-only meeting.
Geo Baker split through two defenders at the top of the arc, drove to the basket for an alley-oop to Carter for a 46-45 Rutgers lead with 7:07 left in regulation. It was the first lead of the game for the Scarlet Knights (6-5).
“There was a moment where it was just the team in the locker room and we just basically said ‘we’re not going to lose this game. We got to keep fighting,’ ” Baker said. “Shots weren’t falling, but that happens in games. You have to find a different way to win.”
They did, earning their first win in the month of December.
“It’s not momentum or anything like that. You just don’t want to go home on a bad note,” Baker said. “I told my friends back home if we lose, I’m not coming home — that’s how upset I’m going to be. So just find a way to win.”
The two teams would go back and forth with two ties in the final two minutes. Omoruyi stole the ball from Gabe Stefanini and the ensuing fast-break layup tied the game at 52 before Omoruyi gave Rutgers a 54-52 lead on a jumper off an inbounds pass from Baker. Randy Brumant sank two free throws with 33 seconds left to send the game to overtime knotted at 54.
Rutgers (6-5) trailed by as many as 15 points in the first half before pulling within 31-21 at intermission.
“I thought we played with great energy. I thought we defended against a Big Ten team. I thought we did a really good job of taking them out of some of their stuff,” Engles said. “I was really happy with the effort we put in. The guys played well.”
In a rare move, Pikiell pulled his entire starting lineup after calling a timeout 1:16 into the game after Columbia jumped out to a 7-0 lead.
“I wanted some energy. The big thing for me today was ‘great energy and follow the game plan. The game plan wasn’t to take quick shots. The game plan was to get the ball moving from side to side. Let’s drive it and post it and some of that stuff,” Pikiell said. “I wanted to get their attention. I don’t know if it worked or not, but I have no problem doing that and I like the guys on the bench. They’re good players, too.”
Columbia: The Lions have lost back-to-back games amid a stretch of playing an ACC team in Boston College and two Big Ten teams in Rutgers and Northwestern. They have a couple more nonconference tune-ups before Ivy League play.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights are back above .500 after a four-game skid, getting their first December win in their first home game of the month. They have one more nonconference game before hopping back into Big Ten play, where they are seeking their first win after an 0-2 start.
Columbia: The Lions are at Northwestern next Sunday.
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights host Maine on Saturday.