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Rutgers overwhelms lowly Central Connecticut State in dominant win ahead of Big Ten restart

Rutgers entered 2022 on the right foot.

In their second game in three days after COVID-19’s 11-day hiatus, the Scarlet Knights played what they needed to do, defeating the depleted Central Connecticut State with a 79-48 victory.

The Blue Devils (4-11), who would face a huge disparity in talent under normal circumstances, are down to eight players in scholarship for Saturday’s game. Those guys were probably exhausted considering they played a game 24 hours ago, with their 12-point win over St. Francis (New York) in Brooklyn.

Rutgers (7-5, 1-1) had an extra day off, everyone was available except for one player (graduate transfer hub Ralph Agee was still in California taking care of family affairs) and a massive talent advantage. The Scarlet Knights used all of these factors to dominate the contest from the start, leading all but 90 seconds, leading the first half by 30 points that swelled to 47.

Besides the dominant defensive performance, Rutgers had complete control of the paint (56-18) and plates (49-31) on both ends. Midfielder Cliff Omuroy in second place (19 points from 9 of 12, 12 rebounds) played a big role in that, along with top goalkeeper Joe Becker (11 points, seven assists) and junior goalkeeper Paul Mulcahy (8 points, eight points). . helps).

Here are four notes from the victory:

Defensive hegemony

Coach Steve Bikel praised his team’s offensive explosion against Maine but lamented some of the defensive lapses they suffered in the win over the Black Bears.

He was certainly pleased with Saturday’s performance.

Rutgers held CCSU to 14 points in a paltry 14.8% shooting clip in the first half, allowing only two points in the paint and three offensive rebounds during the first 20 minutes. The Scarlet Knights only conceded 3 points in the first eight minutes of the second half as the Blue Devils missed 9 of their first 10 shots after the break. CCSU didn’t cross the 20-point mark until the 10:31 mark of the second half, at which point the Crimson Knights were 41-20 on the glass.

CCSU throttled its numbers by scoring 31 points in the last 12 minutes of the game, but in the first half hour, Rutgers choked the weary visitors so thoroughly that he was on his way to breaking the program’s record for the fewest points allowed in a game (35 points versus Merrimack in earlier this season) for most of the competition. But with the win wrapped up and the bench off the bench, Rutgers softened and the Blue Devils seized the opportunity to avoid falling on the wrong side of a historic result.

Get some reserves

Rutgers’ dominance allowed them to delve deeper into the bench and get some rarely used players to get some much-needed running.

The best of the bunch was Player of the Year Dean Reaper, who was the first substitute to score shortly after Omuroi’s speedy foul. He combined the best performance of his young career, finishing with 4 points, three rebounds and two blocks.

Rutgers needs to build quality depth in the central point behind Omoruyi. Saturday’s Reaper outing was a great sign in that direction no matter what the level of competition.

The huge margin of victory also allowed former walker Luke Nathan to score for the second time this season. The loud “LUUUUUUUUKE” sounded from the Scarlet Knights seat as he got up, then the crowd joined as he took the floor. The biggest pop of the night came from the crowd when he scored his only basket a minute early to play.

Another loud cheer came when current goalkeeper Aiden Terry scored the arrival after a media time limit of less than 4 years. It was a bench-free victory in the best way for Rutgers, with freshman Logan Stevens, the lone Crimson Knight, entering to not leave the bench.

Geo Baker continues to climb into the Rutgers records books

Two days after earning the most prolific fifth place shooter with three points in program history, the top guard surpassed an outstanding program in another category. With 11 points, Baker climbed to the 16th all-time top scorer on the program, surpassing goalkeeper John Battle, who went on to play in the NBA for a decade after his career as a Scarlett rider.

Baker, who now has 1,387 career points, went 3 of 4 out of a 3-point range in the win. In the two games following the Scarlet Knights’ COVID break, which Baker described as a “blessing in disguise” from a personal standpoint, he made 6 out of 9 attempts out of a 3-point range (66.6%)

The little crowd is getting boisterous, he should grow up soon

The crowd was understandably scattered again – there were no more than 1,500 people in the building – but the few who were there became very lively. Crowds in the stands shook visitors on several occasions, most notably when some students shouted loudly enough to distract goalkeeper Ian Krishnan enough that he missed three consecutive free throws.

After playing two games in a row in front of small crowds, the Scarlet Knights are expected to expect a vintage home crowd for their next game on Tuesday when Michigan comes into town to celebrate the return of the Big Ten. The Rutgers have never beaten the Wolverines (0-13 all the time) and need to rack up conference wins to build a post-season resume currently on life support, so there should be a lot of juice for this competition.

Thank you for counting on us to provide journalism you can trust.

Brian Fonseca can be reached at bfonseca@njadvancemedia.com.

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