Rutgers Races Past St. Pete’s as Big Ten Play Awaits
The good vibes continue for Rutgers men’s basketball. The Scarlet Knights dominated intra-state rival St. Peter’s 71-40 at Jersey Mike’s Arena on Monday night for a fifth consecutive victory before dipping into conference play on Saturday.
Noah Fernandes powered the Scarlet Knights with 19 points, including going a perfect 9-for-9 from the free throw line. Senior Clifford Omoruyi dished out 17 points and eight boards, while Derek Simpson added 10 points in the win. All 12 active players on the roster saw action on Monday night.
While Rutgers didn’t hit on a high number of shots (only 38.7 percent), Rutgers defense was up to the task, holding down the Peacocks to just 23 percent from the floor. In fact, St. Peter’s shot only 16 percent (3-of-19) from downtown.
The contest was tight for a short period of time in the first half, with Rutgers clinging to an 11-9 lead with 10:15 to go in the first half. Then a three-pointer by Simpson set a fire under the Rutgers offense. That three-ball was the start of a 7-0 Rutgers run. St. Peter’s would only get as close as five points when Brent Bland hit a three with 4:03 to go before halftime. But it was really all Rutgers.
Jumpers by Fernandez, Omoruyi and Antwone Woolfolk got the second half off to a flying start for Rutgers as the Scarlet Knights built a 34-18 lead.
By the midway point of the first half, freshman Gavin Griffith’s connected on a three to double-up St. Pete’s by 26 points, 52-26.
Said Coach Steve Pikiell: “That is the good job that they did, they shortened the game and they got back defensively. We’re a good fast break team and there’s gonna be teams that don’t just allow you to do that all the time. We got out in the second half, got some stops, got some rebounds, and we were able to do it.”
On Saturday, Rutgers will play host to No. 22 Illinois who is also 5-1 on the season. Tip-off is slated for 4 p.m.