PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) — With the offense struggling, Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer turned to her defense and started to press.
The move worked and the 17th-ranked Scarlet Knights rallied from a double-digit deficit in the second half to beat Indiana 69-64 on Thursday night behind a career-high 22 points from Ciani Cryor.
“Something had to jump-start it,” Stringer said. “We were down by 14 points and that’s a quick way to get an easy layup.”
Rutgers (17-4, 9-1 Big Ten) trailed 43-31 in the third quarter before scoring 15 of the final 19 points of the period to trail by one. The Scarlet Knights used a full court press to get back in the game and force Indiana to commit turnover after turnover during the final part of the third period.
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Charise Wilson was called for a technical foul as the buzzer sounded and Indiana hit two free throws to start the fourth quarter and extend the lead to three.
The Scarlet Knights trailed 53-51 with 5:34 left before Arella Guirantes converted a 3-point play and gave Rutgers its first lead of the game. Cryor hit two free throws and had a steal for a layup to give Rutgers a five-point lead with 80 seconds left. Indiana (16-6, 5-5) scored the next four points to get within 62-61 in the final minute but couldn’t score until eight seconds remained that made it 67-64. The Scarlet Knights hit seven of eight from the free throw line in the final minute to seal the win.
Brenna Wise scored 15 points to lead the Hoosiers (16-6, 5-5).
“We have an issue right now with ball security,” Indiana coach Teri Moran said. “We turn it over too much. Turned it over against Maryland at home. The third quarter got us completely out of sync and they got the momentum. Ball security is our Achilles’ Heel right now.”
The Hoosiers had seven of their eight turnovers in the third quarter in the final 3:17.
Indiana built a 33-24 halftime lead behind a stellar defense that held Rutgers to just 27 percent shooting (8 for 30). The Scarlet Knights missed 10 of their first 11 shots and trailed 27-14 midway through the second quarter before cutting the deficit to nine at the break.
TIP-INS: Rutgers honored Stasha Carey before the game for scoring her 1,000th career point on Jan. 16 against Purdue. … The Hoosiers are in the midst of a difficult road stretch. Including Thursday’s game, Indiana plays four of its next five away from home. … Rutgers has won all 11 of its home games this season. … Cryor’s previous career high was 19 points against Notre Dame when she played at Georgia Tech.
GOING STREAKING: Indiana had won the past three games against Rutgers after dropping the first four in the series to the Scarlet Knights.
Indiana: visits Nebraska on Sunday.
Rutgers: visits Minnesota on Sunday.