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Rebounding improvement key for Rutgers vs. Stonehill

rebounding-improvement-key-for-rutgers-vs.-stonehill

Rutgers, which let a resume-boosting opportunity slip away last time out, will return to action on Saturday, hosting Stonehill in Piscataway, N.J.

The Scarlet Knights (7-4) scheduled a neutral-site game against Mississippi State on Dec. 23 in Newark, N.J., but familiar problems cropped up in their 70-60 loss.

Rutgers shot a season-low 17.6 percent from the 3-point arc (3 of 17), but more worrisome was a 47-26 deficit on the boards. The Scarlet Knights also were badly outrebounded in previous losses to Illinois and Wake Forest.

“It’s on me to figure out this rebounding thing,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said postgame. “We did not do a great job, obviously, on the backboards. That led to free-throw opportunities.”

Aundre Hyatt scored a team-high 18 points and paces Rutgers with 12.1 points per game. But center Clifford Omoruyi struggled again. After encountering foul trouble, he was held to season lows of three points and zero rebounds in 20 minutes.

“We need Cliff. … When he’s been very good, we’re good,” Pikiell said. “But it’s a team thing and it’s on me to make sure he doesn’t get in foul trouble, too. We have to play better as a group and I have to do better.”

Rutgers can tune up for the resumption of Big Ten play against Stonehill (2-12).

On Dec. 17, the Skyhawks brought a 10-game losing streak to an end by defeating Hartford 71-44.

“The unfortunate side of things in sports — winning is sometimes what’s needed and winning is, sometimes with the wrong mindset, the only thing that brings out that positivity,” Stonehill coach Chris Kraus said. “… Regardless of opponent or whatever, it’s good to get a win and we needed it.”

Tony Felder, a 5-foot-10 guard, put up 15 points, four assists and four steals in the win for Stonehill. He then added 22 points when Stonehill lost 97-59 at Miami on Dec. 21.

Felder leads the Skyhawks in scoring (12.8 points per game) and assists (3.2), while Jackson Benigni averages 12.7 points per game but hasn’t played since Dec. 2 because of an undisclosed injury.

–Field Level Media

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