While the men’s version of the NCAA Basketball Tournament is underway, the women’s bracket begins tomorrow (Friday 17th). We would like to take you through the tournament and highlight some of the local talent that will be competing this year. When you think of New Jersey basketball, generally it’s the guys that come to mind. There is however some excellent females that come out of New Jersey and play Division 1 basketball.
This season, there are two teams and 27 individual players with New Jersey ties that will be competing in the big dance. Let’s take a look.
Rutgers – The Scarlet Knights finished the regular season in sixth place in the Big East with a conference record of 10-6. Rutgers has an overall record of 22-9, including 12-3 at home. They are 6-5 on the road and 4-1 on neutral courts this season. Rutgers enters the tournament with a tough draw. The Scarlet Knights are the No. 6 seed but must travel to Spokane, Washington and take on No. 11 seed Gonzaga. It’s essentially a home game for the Zags.
Rutgers is led by seniors April Sykes and Khadijah Rushdan. Both players are averaging 13 points per game. Rushdan leads the team with 100 assists this season. Also playing an important role for the Knights is junior Monique Oliver who is averaging 11.8 points along with a team high 7.4 rebounds per game. She has a total of 57 blocks this season. Oliver is 4th in the Big East with a 55% field goal percentage.
The Scarlet Knights went 5-9 against teams in this years tournament. They are averaging 60.5 points per game while giving up 54.4. As a team, Rutgers shoots 69% from the floor and 28% from behind the three-point line. They are averaging 38 rebounds and 16 turnovers per game. If Rutgers can get past Gonzaga, they will face the winner of No. 3 Miami, FL and No. 14 Idaho State.
Head coach C. Vivian Stringer is in her 17th season at Rutgers.
Princeton - The Princeton Tigers completed an undefeated Ivy League schedule to win the conference title. The Tigers are 24-4 overall, 14-0 in Ivy League play. They enter the tournament with 17 straight wins, but have gone just 1-4 against teams in this year’s tournament.
Junior forward, Niveen Rasheed leads the team, averaging 16.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game. She is shooting 46% from the floor and 76% from the free throw line. Rasheed has 78 assists and 68 steals for the Tigers. Senior guard Lauren Edwards leads the team with 29.6 minutes on the floor per game. She averages 11.5 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Senior center Devona Allgood rounds out the main trio with 10 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.
Princeton who enters the tournament as a No. 9 seed is averaging 72.3 points per game while giving up 52.8 to it’s opponents. The Tigers shoot 71% from the free throw line and 33% from three-point range. They average 44.1 rebounds and 16.5 turnovers per contest.
The Tigers will be in Bridgeport, CT to take on No. 8 seed Kansas State. If they get the win, they will advance to play the winner of No. 1 seed Connecticut and No. 16 Prairie View.
Head coach Courtney Banghart is in her fifth season at Princeton.
Jersey Girls In The Tourney
Jasmine Jackson – G – Georgetown – A freshman from Old Bridge, NJ, Jackson has appeared in seven games for the Hoyas, averaging 5.1 minutes. She has shot 46% from the field and 2-of-3 from behind the arc. Jackson is averaging two points and 1.4 rebounds per game.
La’Keisha Sutton – G – South Carolina - Sutton is a senior from Trenton, NJ who attended Trenton Catholic. She has started all 32 games this season for the Gamecocks, and averages a team high 30.3 minutes per game. She is second on the team with 10.5 points and a total of 84 assists this season. She is also averaging 2.8 rebounds per game. Sutton totalled 40 steals and is a 76% free throw shooter.
Ebony Wilson – G – South Carolina - A senior guard from Newark, NJ appeared in 28 games this season including one start. She is averaging 1.1 points and one rebound per game.
Bra’Shey Ali – F – Kentucky - A Plainfield, NJ native. Ali averaged 7.5 minutes in 11 games this season. A 69% shooter, Ali averaged 2.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game. She has seven blocks.
Christina Foggie – G – Vanderbilt - Foggie is a sophomore from Mount Laurel, NJ. The Lenape Regional alum started all 31 games this season for the Commodores. She led the team with 17.8 points per game. Foggie also averaged 3.4 rebounds while totalling 40 steals on the defensive end. She is a 84% free throw shooter and shot 42% from behind the three-point line.
Martina Ellerbe – F – Ohio State - The Teaneck, NJ native has appeared in 30 games for an average of 10.5 minutes. She is averaging 1.7 points and 1.8 rebounds.
Brooklyn Pope – F – Baylor - Pope is not a NJ native but did previously play at Rutgers before transferring. She is now averaging 15.1 minutes, 7.7 points, and 5.6 rebounds for the nations No. 1 team. She is shooting 49% from the field. Pope has started seven games and appeared in 30.
Vanessa Moore – C – Georgetown - Moore is a Hackettstown, NJ native. Now a junior for the Hoyas, she appeared in 16 games, averaging 5.6 minutes. Moore totalled 14 points and 12 rebounds this season. She has made 7-of-10 shots from the floor.
Catherine Kearney – F/C – Liberty - Kearney is a freshman from Monroeville, NJ. She appeared in all 32 games this season including one start. She is averaging 15.8 minutes, 4.1 points, and 3.8 rebounds per game. Kearney is shooting 47% from the floor.
Chantel Lavender – G – Navy - A Trenton, NJ native who attended The Pennington School. Lavender is a junior at Navy averaging 9.7 minutes in 18 games this season. She is averaging 2.2 points and 0.9 rebounds. She has eight steals and shot 4-of-4 from the free throw line.
Briyona Canty – G – Rutgers - Canty is a Willingboro, NJ native who attended Trenton Catholic. As a freshman, Canty appeared in 27 games, starting six of them for Rutgers. She is averaging 18.9 minutes, 2.9 points, and 3.4 rebounds per game. Canty has 41 assists this season.
Syessence Davis – G – Rutgers - The former Neptune High School star has appeared in 29 games, including four starts this season as a freshman. Davis is averaging 13.2 minutes, 1.9 points, and 1.6 rebounds. She has 30 steals and 29 assists.
Christa Evans – F/C – Rutgers – Evans is a Jackson Memorial graduate now in her freshman year at Rutgers. She has appeared in all 31 games this season, starting four. She is averaging 9.9 minutes, 0.8 points, and 1.6 rebounds.
Brittany Lapidus – G – Rutgers – A Marlboro, NJ native now in her junior year. Lapidus appeared in seven games averaging one minute per. She has scored a total of three points and grabbed one rebound.
Shakena Richardson – G – Rutgers - A freshman from Neptune, NJ. Richardson has appeared in 28 games including one start. She is averaging 11.5 minutes, 2.2 points, and 0.8 rebounds. She has 33 assists and 23 steals this season.
Jaymee Tucker – G – Rutgers - Jaymee is a senior that has appeared in 14 games, starting one. She averages 1.9 minutes per game and has totalled five points, one rebound, and two steals.
Kristina Danella – G/F – Marist - Kristina is a redshirt junior from Manalapan, NJ. She played her high school ball at Red Bank Catholic. She has started six games but appeared in all 32. She’s averaging 16.7 minutes, 6.7 points, and 3.5 rebounds this season. Danella is shooting 44% from the field, 39% from behind the three-point line, and 90% from the free throw line.
Kristen Helmstetter – F – Princeton - A Bridgewater, NJ native, Helmstetter played 27 games as a sophomore this season. She averaged 11.9 minutes, 3.1 points, and 2.4 rebounds. She has 15 blocks this season and is shooting 83% from the free throw line and 44% from behind the arc.
Kate Miller – F – Princeton - A Rumson, NJ native who attended high school at Rumson-Fair Haven. She appeared in all 28 games for the Tigers and started 26 of them. Miller is averaging 5.9 points and 3.3 rebounds. She is a 80% free throw shooter.
Haley Peters – G/F – Duke - The Red Bank native attended The Peddie School. She is now a sophomore at Duke. She has started 29 games and averages 27 minutes per. Peters averages 10.6 points and 5.4 rebounds this season. She has 41 steals. This season, Peters is shooting 50% from the field, 41% from three-point range, and 70% from the free-throw line.
Laurin Mincy – G – Maryland - Now a sophomore at Maryland, Lincy is from Newark and attended University High School. She has appeared in all 32 games this season, starting 31 of them. Mincy plays a team high 32.3 minutes per game and is second on the team with 12.8 points. She also averages 4.1 rebounds while totalling 69 assists and 28 steals. She is hitting 40% of her three pointers and 82% of her free throw attempts.
Essence Townsend – C – Maryland – The Paterson, NJ native is now a junior for the Terps. She has played 14 games this season for an average of 7.6 minutes. She is averaging 2.1 points and 2.5 rebounds while totalling 17 blocked shots.
Cassandra Callaway – G – Albany - The senior from Bayonne, NJ previously played at Daytona State. She has played in 23 games including 19 starts. She is averaging 30.9 minutes per contest. Callaway is second on the team with 10.7 points to go along with 2.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. She is an 80% free throw shooter.
Cyndra Couch – F – Albany - A native of New York, NY who attended The Hun School of Princeton, Couch is now a sophomore at Albany. She appeared in 22 games for an average of 6.4 minutes. She is averaging 2.2 points and 1.8 rebounds while totalling 14 steals.
Brooke Hampton – G – West Virginia - The Colts Neck, NJ native appeared in 31 games this season including six starts. She averages 25.6 minutes, 5.6 points, and 1.6 rebounds. Hampton easily leads the Mountaineers with 135 assists and has 29 steals. She is a 83% free throw shooter.
Nadirah McKenith – G – St. John’s - The Newark, NJ native and University High alum is now a junior for St. John’s. She has appeared in 28 games, all starts and averages 32.8 minutes. She is second on the team with 12 points her game to go along with 5.7 rebounds. She has 132 assists and 66 steals. McKenith is shooting 78% from the free throw line.
Amber Thompson – F – St. John’s - Thompson is also from Newark and attended University High. Now a freshman at St. John’s, she appeared in 31 games including 20 starts. She averages 21.1 minutes, 6.2 points, and 6.0 rebounds which is third on the team. Thompson is a 45% shooter.