- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 14, 2016

PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) - Unlike past seasons when Rutgers figured out ways to lose, the Scarlet Knights are doing the opposite this year.

“We’re figuring out ways to win games,” said coach Steve Pikiell after Rutgers took an 82-69 victory over Fairleigh Dickinson on Wednesday night. “Each team we’ve played has presented a different challenge and we’ve been able to respond and take care of the game.”

Corey Sanders and Mike Williams had 15 points each for the Scarlet Knights (10-1), who won their fourth straight and continued their best start since 1975-76. Rutgers has won three more games than all of last season.

“This team has a never-say-die attitude,” Williams said. “You gotta give it to our coach. He came in with a plan, with a lot of energy. That was different for us. We kind of feed off of that.”

C.J. Gettys had 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists for the Scarlet Knights. Candido Sa added 11 points, Nigel Johnson had eight points and seven assists and Deshawn Freeman had six points and 13 rebounds before leaving late in the game after getting hit in the face.

Darian Anderson had 22 points and four assists for the Knights (2-8), who lost their sixth straight. Mike Holloway added 14 points and eight rebounds and Earl Potts Jr., in his third game back from a foot injury, had 13 points.

In a first half that featured four ties and five lead changes, Rutgers ended with an 8-0 run for a 38-32 advantage. The Scarlet Knights maintained the advantage throughout the second half and pulled away after FDU got within 59-55.

BIG PICTURE

FDU: Anderson has 55 points in his last two games. Holloway was ejected after being called for a flagrant foul after hitting Freeman in the face on a drive with 4:36 remaining. The New Jersey-based Knights dropped to 1-3 against Jersey schools this season but coach Greg Herenda was proud of his team’s effort.

“I love them, they just gotta love themselves, and they went down fighting tonight,” said Herenda, whose team reached the NCAA Tournament last year and was picked to win the Northeast Conference this season. “Our mantra tonight was ‘Fight don’t fold,’ and they didn’t fold. I see a bright future for Fairleigh Dickinson.”

Rutgers: Johnson, who entered the game tied with Freeman as Rutgers leading scorer with a 13.0 average, got his first start of the season. Freeman had 10 rebounds in the first half. The victory gave the Scarlet Knights their first 8-0 home start since 2001-02, while Pikiell continues to enjoy the best start for a first-year head coach in Rutgers history.

“That’s very important,” Sanders said of the home record. “We don’t want anybody coming in here thinking they can walk out with a win. Coach Pikiell said we’re gonna pack them up and send them back on the bus so they won’t want to come here any more.”

PLAYING SICK

Sanders played 26 minutes and shot 6 of 11 despite battling an illness all day. “I was just taking good shots and it was just coming to me tonight,” he said. “I’m going to push through with whatever sickness I’ve got.”

OFFESTING FREE THROW WOES

The Scarlet Knights shot just 14 of 29 from the foul line, but were 51.7 percent (31-of-60) from the field and held a 43-31 rebounding advantage against the physical Knights. After making 1 of 9 3-pointers in the first half, Rutgers hit 5 of 7 in the second.

UP NEXT

FDU: The Knights travel to No. 23 Cincinnati on Saturday for their first game of the season against a ranked opponent.

Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights play Fordham on Sunday for the first of their two games at Madison Square Garden this season.

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