PISCATAWAY, NJ (AP) — Steve Pikiell bristled at the idea that playing a Division II school didn’t matter. While beating such an opponent won’t help a postseason resume, won't count toward Rutgers’ RPI, or even register as a win, the coach feels he gets something out of every game.
Against Caldwell, it was breakthrough performances for a couple of backcourt players.
Jacob Young had 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting with eight rebounds and six assists and Paul Mulcahy had a career-high 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting as Rutgers defeated Division II Caldwell 94-49 on Monday night.
“I’m not worried about the postseason,” Pikiell said. “I’m worried about winning games coming back from Christmas and we play in the best league in the country and we play the best schedule in that league.”
Rutgers (10-3, 1-1 Big Ten) jumped to an early lead, but Caldwell's Anthony Cooper hit a jumper on the right wing on a fast break to make it 9-8 with 15:43 left, forcing Rutgers to call a timeout. The Scarlet Knights went on a 15-0 run after talking things over before taking a 42-23 halftime lead in the wire-to-wire victory.
Mulchay – who also had five rebounds and five assists – missed his first shot four minutes into the second half, on a pull-up jumper in the paint. Young missed his first shot three minutes later on a jumper.
“I love the way he just finds people and the way he just attacks the rim,” Young said of Mulcahy.
Ruud Lutterman led Caldwell (6-6) with 16 points, while Cooper had 10 points.
“That game was a real confidence-booster,” Young said. “It was a good game to get a confidence-booster going into January because the next few are tough.”
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights are heading back to Big Ten play riding high, winning four-straight, including over intrastate rival No. 22 Seton Hall. After losing at No. 12 Michigan State to open Big Ten play, the Scarlet Knights are 1-1 in conference play for just the second time since joining the Big Ten in 2014. Rutgers has put itself in good position to make the postseason for the first time since 2006. After a road game at Nebraska, Rutgers may have another shot at a Top 25 team when they host No. 21 Penn State on Jan. 7.
Caldwell: The Cougars are .500 at the end of nonconference play, having gone 1-1 against Division I teams with a win over Norfolk State on a neutral court. Under the tutelage of 32-year head coach Mark Corino, the Cougars were 17-12 last year, finishing third place in the CACC North Division and advancing to the quarterfinals of CACC Championship.
Rutgers guard Peter Kiss did not play because of a coach’s decision, Pikiell said. The redshirt junior via a transfer from Quinnipiac has only in one game this season, vs. Niagara on Jan. 10. He played in 30 games last year, starting in 12, averaging six points per game in his first eligible season at Rutgers.
Rutgers: At Nebraska on Friday.
Caldwell: Hosts Goldey-Beacom on Saturday.
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