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Rick Nixon | NCAA | January 22, 2019

Women's basketball: Wins over Purdue, Michigan State earn Rutgers Team of the Week honors

Andy Katz chats with Gonzaga's Laura Stockton

After missing out on the NCAA tournament the last three years, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights are not only making a strong case for inclusion in 2019, but could possibly earn a top-16 seed as well.

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Rutgers, which improved to 15-3 overall and 7-0 in Big Ten Conference play, earned NCAA women's basketball Team of the Week honors after scoring a pair of home wins over Purdue (65-63) and No. 17 Michigan State (76-62).

Rutgers improved to 7-0 in conference play for the first time since 2007-08 when the Scarlet Knights won seven straight to kick off their Big East schedule.
 
In the win over Purdue on Jan. 16, Rutgers won a tight battle that was tied at nine different times. Three Scarlet Knights finished in double-digits with sophomore guard Arella Guirantes leading the way with 17 points. Senior forward Stasha Carey chipped in 11 points, including her 1,000th of her career. Graduate guard Charise Wilson rounded out the double-figure scorers with 10 points in the win.

In a ranked matchup that pitted the Big Ten's top-ranked defense against the league's top-ranked offense, Rutgers defeated Michigan State behind Carey's career-high 30 points. Guirantes added 19 in support.

It was Rutgers' second top-25 victory of the 2018-19 season, which also includes a win over then-No. 4 Maryland in late December. It’s the school's most wins over ranked opponents since 2014-15 when the Scarlet Knights downed No. 21 Minnesota and No. 19 Nebraska at home.

Rutgers has now kept all 18 opponents under their average this season. Michigan State had the Big Ten's top-ranked offense, entering the game at 80.6 points per contest, and was limited to 62. It tied for the second fewest points scored by the Spartans this season.

 
Rutgers, which moved up to No. 14 in The Associated Press’ women’s college basketball poll released on Monday, hits the road for two Big Ten trips this week, starting at Iowa on Jan. 23. The Scarlet Knights then visit Penn State on Sunday, Jan. 27.

ALSO: The 15 NCAA women’s basketball tournament streaks that could continue (or end) in 2019

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