Associated Press

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Eli Carter said there was nothing different in his improved performance against Sacred Heart Monday night, other than hitting a few baskets.

"It was just a matter of making shots," said Carter, who rebounded from a poor opening-night effort to come off the bench for 18 points and lead Rutgers to an 88-62 victory over Sacred Heart. "I just wanted to play better. I played terrible the first game. I just wanted to come out and make some shots and give my team a lift."

Louis Montes had 13 points for Sacred Heart (1-1) and Tevin Falzon added 10. Shane Gibson saw his 37-game double-digit scoring streak end as he scored seven points on 3-of-15 shooting

Carter was the Knights' leading scorer as a freshman last year but shot just 2-for-11 in Rutgers' surprising opening-night loss to Saint Peter's.

He made five of his first eight shots against the Pioneers and finished 7-for-15 with three assists.

"Eli had very good shots," coach Mike Rice said. "He had two plays reminiscent of last year, where tried to do too much. He missed a lot of layups and open shots the first night, but I thought he would bounce back.

"He's a tough, strong-willed player. He doesn't like not starting. His body language shows it. If he doesn't like it, then go ahead and trust your teammates, trust the offense. That's what he did tonight."

Carter was one of three starters against Saint Peter's who came off the bench against Sacred Heart, and Rice said that might be a trend this season.

"We went with guys to send a message to some other people," the third-year coach said. "I don't think we're going to stay with one starting lineup. We'll send some messages once in a while."

This message seemed to get through, as Rutgers (1-1) controlled the contest throughout.

The Scarlet Knights got 14 points apiece from Dane Miller and Myles Mack.



Akinpetide 3-7 1-4 7, Greenbacker 2-5 0-0 4, Gaetano 0-0 0-0 0, Montes 5-16 3-4 13, Gibson 3-15 0-0 7, Swidowski 3-5 2-2 8, Cramer 0-0 0-0 0, Abdel Latif 0-2 2-2 2, Glowiak 3-6 0-0 9, Tate 1-2 0-0 2, Falzon 4-8 1-1 10. Totals 24-66 9-13 62.


Johnson 3-5 0-2 6, Judge 5-6 1-6 11, Miller 6-7 1-2 14, Mack 5-9 4-4 14, Poole 1-7 2-2 4, Seagears 1-3 0-0 2, Carter 7-15 2-3 18, Kone 2-5 0-0 4, Randall 2-3 0-0 4, Jack 2-4 1-1 5, Hyde 0-0 0-0 0, Garrett 3-4 0-0 6, Kelley 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 37-68 11-20 88.

Halftime--Rutgers 41-21. 3-Point Goals--Sacred Heart 5-18 (Glowiak 3-5, Falzon 1-2, Gibson 1-6, Greenbacker 0-1, Montes 0-4), Rutgers 3-14 (Carter 2-6, Miller 1-2, Seagears 0-1, Kone 0-1, Poole 0-2, Mack 0-2). Fouled Out--None. Rebounds--Sacred Heart 38 (Akinpetide 14), Rutgers 40 (Judge 10). Assists--Sacred Heart 14 (Gaetano 7), Rutgers 20 (Seagears 4). Total Fouls--Sacred Heart 18, Rutgers 14. A--2,768.

After shooting 35.8 percent (19-for-53) against Saint Peter's with 18 turnovers, Rutgers hit 54.4 percent (37-for-68) and committed just seven turnovers. It also moved the ball better and had better shot selection.

The Pioneers took leads of 6-2, 8-4 and 11-6 before Carter's 3-pointer ignited a 17-0 run that gave Rutgers 23-11 lead. It also got the guard in a groove.

"When I see one go in, it definitely helps," he said. "It boosts my confidence more."

En route to a 41-21 advantage, the Knights shot 54.8 percent (17-for-31) during the first half, making two less baskets than they had the entire game against Saint Peter's.

Sacred Heart was coming off an inspired opening-night overtime win against Yale in which it rallied from a 24-point halftime deficit. But the Pioneers got no closer than 16 after intermission and the Knights opened their largest lead at 82-52.

Miller shot 6-for-7 with seven rebounds, while Kadeem Jack, another of Friday's starters to come off the bench for Rutgers, helped limit Sacred Heart to 36.4 percent shooting (24-for-66) with six blocked shots and two steals.

"I think the lineup change definitely worked for us today," said Judge, who has started both games along with Miller. "But I also I think it was the way we pre-practiced and what we did before the game. You could see the hunger in everybody's eyes. Everybody wanted to come and do what they could to contribute to a win."