PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer couldn’t explain her team’s season-low shooting percentage.
“I thought we took a lot of good shots,” VanDerveer said. “But sometimes shots just don’t fall.”
Despite shooting just 32 percent, No. 5 Stanford slipped past Rutgers 50-46 Wednesday night.
Freshman T’Nae Thiel led all scorers with 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as the Cardinal improved to 13-1, its best start since the 1996-97 Final Four campaign.
Rutgers (4-7), with four freshmen and a sophomore in the starting lineup and just seven healthy players, held Stanford to a season-low point total.
The Cardinal outscored its opposition by an average of 83-64 going into the game, but made just 18-of-57 from the field.
Sebnem Kimyacioglu hit consecutive 3-pointers to start a 10-1 run and rally Stanford from a 36-35 deficit with 8:25 remaining. Bethany Donaphin’s jumper with 6:17 remaining gave the Cardinal a 45-37 lead, and Rutgers never got within four points the rest of the way.
“Basketball is a game of runs and spurts,” said Donaphin, who averages 11 points, but finished 1-of-7 from the field with three points. “We knew they were going to have at least one during the game and I think we responded well.
“Different people had not-so-great games, myself included. We stayed with things and that’s why we won in the end.”
Stanford took a 22-6 lead nine minutes into the game, but Rutgers rallied with a 20-3 run to close out the first half. Freshman Saona Chapman and sophomore Nikki Jett hit consecutive 3-pointers to cap the run, giving Rutgers a 26-25 lead with 3:26 left in the first half.
Enjoli Izidor’s layup with 41 seconds left in the first half gave Stanford a 27-26 lead at the break.
Chapman played all 40 minutes, scoring a season-high 12 points with seven rebounds and seven assists.
Dawn McCullouch added 12 points for Rutgers.
Rutgers’ leading scorer Mauri Horton was out with a heel injury and leading rebounder Davalyn Cunningham was sidelined with a sprained ankle.
“I just told the team that Davalyn’s in dress clothes and Mauri’s not playing so go get it done,” said Rutgers’ coach C. Vivian Stringer. “If you’re in a swimming pool with sharks I bet you can figure how to swim.
“I think we were fighting for our lives. But we fought extremely hard and I’m proud of their effort.”