The Purdue women’s basketball team returns to action on Sunday trying to protect its perfect conference record.
The Boilermakers (11-3, 2-0) host Rutgers (11-2, 1-1) at noon Sunday. The game will be televised by the Big Ten Network.
Rutgers opened its Big Ten season with a 64-61 win at Wisconsin on Dec. 28, then a loss to No. 14 Indiana, 66-56, in Piscataway, New Jersey, on Tuesday.
The Scarlet Knights are off to their best start since 1990-91 when they started 13.0.
They are led by Arelia Guirantes, a 5-11 junior guard. She averages 19.7 points per game having scored 20 or more points five times this season, including the last two games. She leads the team in minutes played (35.0 per game), field goal attempts (15.5 per game), field goals made (5.9 per game), 3-pointers made (12), free throws attempted (91), free throws made (91), rebounding (7.4 per game), assists (45) and blocks (14). She is shooting 38.3 percent from the field – sixth on the team – and 76.9 percent from the line – second best.
She had a career-best 27 points in Rutgers’ opener at South Alabama and has been twice picked as the Big Ten Player of the Week this season.
Tekia Mack, 6-1 junior forward/guard, is second in scoring at 14.5 per game. She is second in rebounding, just three fewer than Guirantes. Mack has had three 20-point games and three double-doubles.
Khadaizha Sanders, 5-7 graduate student guard, is the final double-digit scorer at 10.1 per game. She is the team’s assist leader at 4.9 per game and leads the team in steals (2.3 per game) and is No. 46 nationally in that category. She has scored in double figures in five of the last Rutgers games.
The Scarlet Knights average 70.4 points per game and give up 52.1.
Purdue is expected to counter with its typical starting lineup of Karissa McLaughlin (12.5 points per game), Ae’Rianna Harris (12.0 ppg), Dominique Oden (11.4 ppg), Kayana Traylor (8.6 ppg) and Tamara Farquhar (7.8 ppg).
Harris has been Purdue’s most prolific scorer of late, having had three consecutive double-figure scoring games and in six of the last seven. And Farquhar has had double-doubles in two of the last three games.
The Boilermakers average 65.0 points per game and give up 58.9.
• Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer is the all-time winningest coach in Big Ten play with 213 wins (she previously coached at Iowa 1983-95). She is the sixth winningest women’s coach in the NCAA in her 48 seasons as coach. For her career, she is 1,023-405.
• Rutgers has owned the paint. It is outscoring its opponents by an average of 16.4 points per game down low. It is 11-1 when outscoring opponents in the lane this season.
• Rutgers is No. 6 in the nation in defensive shooting percentage, holding teams to 31.6 percent shooting. It is also No. 10 nationally in defensive points per game at 52.1.
• Rutgers leads the series against Purdue, 6-4, including a 6-3 mark since the Scarlet Knights joined the Big Ten. Last season, Rutgers beat Purdue 65-63 in overtime on Jan. 16 in New Jersey and then again 64-49 in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals.