INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Geo Baker devoted a part this week to using his voice to raise awareness about inequality in college sports.
He will use his platform in a few more days after helping Rutgers win the first NCAA Tournament in 38 years.
Baker scored 13 points, including the decisive header at 10 seconds left, and the 10th seeded Scarlet Knights toppled 7th seed Clemson 60-56 on Friday night in the Midwest.
“Honestly, it’s better than I imagined,” Baker said. “This is something we all have dreamed of for a long time, but to hear Rutgers fans and they are going crazy, and just know that we survived and made progress in March, that is. is what I’ve always imagined. It was crazier than I had ever imagined. ”
Rutgers (16-11) was last selected for the NCAAs in 1991, the match ending with a first round loss to Arizona State. Scarlet Knights’ final victory in the tournament was in 1983 over a school that was renamed from Southwest Louisiana to just Louisiana.
The drought is over for Rutgers, which will face No. 2 Houston seed on Sunday.
Jacob Young and Caleb McConnell both scored 13 points and Ron Harper Jr added 10. Baker netted the final five points for Rutgers after Scarlet Knights had an 11-point lead and almost left it all.
“Definitely the first time these guys were on this pitch, they were locked in the first place,” said Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell. “We’ve had great practice all week this week and I love the way they play with that swagger over the weekend.”
Aamir Sims led Clemson (16-8) with 15 points, but was held for most of the second half. Clyde Trapp got 12 out of 14 after the break, but the tigers failed to take a shot in the last four minutes.
Clemson manager Brad Brownell said: “Easy baskets are often the difference. “Credit the Rutgers children. They had a couple of shots that were easier in the game than us and that’s the difference. “
Baker was one of the biggest voices on social media this week in a concerted effort among several players to raise awareness about inequality in college sports. Players received the #NotNCAAProperty trend on social media when they called for a rule change and requested a meeting with the NCAA president and lawmakers.
When the time came for the game, Baker focused on giving Rutgers a sixth-ever victory in the tournament.
“These are the things that you grew up watching on TV, and then my first two years here, I was watching on TV,” Baker said. “So just get up here and win a really special game.”
The Scarlet Knights brought about 1,000 fans decorated in red and white inside the Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the middle of the second half with a score of 16-2 to gain control.
Young’s 3-pointer gave Rutgers a 39-37 lead, the first time since it was 19-17. McConnell’s 3-pointer gave Scarlet Knights the most lead with the score 50-39 with 9:35 remaining.
But Clemson left. After the first half did not score, Sims switched a three-point pair, and Trapp’s three-point play with a 4:12 left made it 55-55.
It was the last goal scored on Clemson’s field. Baker’s three-pointers timeout pushed Rutgers back forward. Clemson missed its last four hits and got a pair of reverses, including Sims called to travel with 43 seconds left.
Brownell doesn’t believe Sims is traveling in the play.
“Aamir is still driving. We will put it in the hands of our best player, ”said Brownell.
Clemson made it to the round of 16 on their final tournament entry in 2018, but the Tigers lost in the first round of four of their last six NCAA trips.
Only once had Rutgers won many matches in a tournament. In 1976, the Scarlet Knights reached the quarterfinals final, where they lost to Michigan.
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