Laney's double-double helps Rutgers beat Michigan 81-68
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Betnijah Laney told her teammates to relax as Rutgers was blowing a huge second half lead.
The Scarlet Knights' senior forward wouldn't let the 24th-ranked Scarlet Knights lose a fourth-straight home game.
She had 20 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and five steals to help the Scarlet Knights recover from blowing an 18-point second half lead to beat Michigan 81-68 on Wednesday night.
''I think we got comfortable a little,'' Laney said. ''Yes it was a wake-up call. It's crunch time, we got to get going, can't let them back in the game. We did what we had to do.''
The Scarlet Knights (11-4, 2-2 Big Ten) looked like they were going to cruise to an easy conference win building a 45-27 lead early in the second half before Michigan rallied to tie the game at 51.
Rutgers didn't fold, scoring the next seven points, started on a three-point play by Kahleah Copper. Laney's jumper with 8:32 left made it 58-51.
Michigan (10-5, 2-2) couldn't get closer than four the rest of the way.
''It wasn't about execution, it was because we relaxed on our pickup and that can't be,'' said Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer. ''Hopefully we can remember that and move forward from this moment on.''
Tyler Scaife added 20 points for the Scarlet Knights, who were in the midst of a rare three-game home losing streak, although those games had all come against ranked opponents. They hadn't lost four straight at home since the 2001-02 season.
With the game tied 6-6, Rutgers scored 17 of the next 19 to blow the game open. Four different Scarlet Knights scored in the run which was capped by Laney's three-point play that made it 25-8 with 11:58 left.
The Scarlet Knights led 42-25 at the half before Michigan rallied in the second half behind Cyesha Goree, Shannon Smith and Siera Thompson.
The trio scored all but two points during a 24-6 run that tied the game at 51 on Thompson's 3-pointer with 10:43 left. But Michigan just couldn't take the lead.
''That was big difference,'' Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. ''It's a different mentality if they get over the top and get that lead. It would have made a big difference.''
Goree finished with 23 points to lead Michigan while Thompson and Smith each added 16.
''I wish we could have the first 10 minutes of the game back,'' Barnes Arico said. ''They established themselves early, scored a ton of points on us in the first half.''
Michigan: This was just the second meeting ever between the schools. Rutgers won the other game 65-50 in 2003. Michigan coach Barnes Arico though is no stranger to the Scarlet Knights having beaten them the last four times they met when she was at St. John's.
Rutgers: Coach Stringer is six wins short of becoming the all-time winningest coach in Big Ten history. She has 171 conference victories in her career just behind Rene Portland of Penn State who won 176 games.
Laney now has 11 double-doubles this season and Barnes Arico was impressed with Rutgers' senior.
''She's not just a scorer or rebounder, she has the ability to make her team better,'' Barnes Arico said. ''To rebound, score and have seven assists from the four spot is really special.''
Guard Briyona Canty missed her third straight game while recovering from a deep bone bruise in her right knee.
''How soon I don't know, she's got a significant bone bruise that nobody can see,'' Stringer said. ''She says she feels good but the medical people don't want her on at this particular point.''
Michigan: hosts Ohio State on Sunday.
Rutgers: visits Penn State on Saturday.