Prep Charter's Copper leads Rutgers in women's NCAA tourney
For Kahleah Copper, being in a holding pattern hasn't been that bad. The leading scorer on the Rutgers women's basketball team, Copper, a Prep Charter graduate, hasn't played a game since the Scarlet Knights (22-9) were eliminated from the Big Ten tournament in the second round March 6.
For Kahleah Copper, being in a holding pattern hasn't been that bad.
The leading scorer on the Rutgers women's basketball team, Copper, a Prep Charter graduate, hasn't played a game since the Scarlet Knights (22-9) were eliminated from the Big Ten tournament in the second round March 6.
On Monday Copper, a 6-foot-1 junior forward, and her Rutgers teammates found out they would be the No. 8 seed in the Albany Regional in the NCAA women's tournament. They will play Saturday at 6:30 p.m. against former Big East foe and No. 9 seed Seton Hall (28-5) in a first-round game in Storrs, Conn.
Last season, Rutgers defeated Seton Hall, 91-79, in double overtime in the third round of the women's NIT.
If the Scarlet Knights win Saturday, the prize is a likely meeting with top-seeded UConn on Monday. The Huskies face 16th-seeded St. Francis (N.Y.) in the game after Rutgers.
Copper just wants to play.
"I'm really excited because this will be my first tournament," said Cooper, of North Philadelphia. "We are excited. We want to make a deep run in the tournament. I thought we should have done better in the Big Ten tournament, but it's over and it's behind us."
In her third season, Copper has become the Scarlet Knights' go-to player. She leads the team with 16.3 points per game, but her average in conference games was 17.4.
Copper led Rutgers in scoring 13 times during the 2014-15 season. Ten times she scored at least 20 points, and she scored in double digits in all but four games. Over the last six games, Copper, who scored her 1,000th career point against Washington on Jan. 18, averaged 20 points.
"I feel like I've gotten really comfortable in the offense," Copper said. "My teammates are comfortable with me, and they have confidence that they can look to me to score in tough situations."
Copper's emergence at Rutgers is not unexpected.
She was rated the No. 17 overall and fifth-best wing player in the country by ESPN in 2012, the same year she was named first- team all-state and a McDonald's all-American. She was named to the Big East all-freshman team after averaging 5.1 points and 3.5 rebounds in limited playing time.
She capped her sophomore season by winning the women's NIT MVP. She was also first-team all-American Athletic Conference after averaging 16.1 points and 6.2 rebounds.
While she enjoyed playing in the AAC - which included games against two-time defending national champion UConn - Copper said Rutgers' move to the Big Ten can only help.
"We had to be tougher and more physical in the Big Ten," Copper said. "That's going to help us moving forward."